This time of year, late spring, is curious. Unlike the transitions from summer to fall – when the color of the landscape vividly shifts – from fall to winter – when the trees shed dry leaves which soon will be covered in ice and snow – and from winter to spring – when buds burst, the evolution from spring to summer is more subtle on the East Coast. Less like a switchboard change, and more the way the sun rises. Summer gradually arrives, its heat and intensity inching higher and higher toward the fullness of the season, until we realize, “Oh yes. It is summer, isn’t it?”
For those of us, obviously myself included, who have prolonged their education and have remained on the academic calendar into adulthood, the last few days of spring evoke nostalgia. The smell of sun warming concrete, the sound of tape being drawn over moving boxes, the brightness of the evening, ice cream cones, the echos of birdsongs. Nothing like the color of the leaves or a blanket of snow signals to us that new things must begin, but it is somehow baked into us. The slightly longer day whispers, be a little bit freer, be a little bit bolder, try something new.
* * *
My recent graduation, its conclusion knitted to the warmed beauty of late spring, has released me. Suddenly, all that filled my days has changed. Instead of writing long essays about existentialism, discussing decoloniality with classmates for several hours a week, interviewing women of faith for my dissertation, and reading the female mystics, I am immersed in the chaotic details of adulthood: writing cover letters, explaining why I went to divinity school to potential employers, following up multiple times without receiving replies, and organizing the millions of details for our upcoming move.
The benefit of being a graduated graduate student is that I have been here once before. I have stood on the edge of the coast, staring at the horizon, waiting for an answer about what I should do with my life. The drawback of being a highly sensitive, introverted, type A student is that this sort of waiting is torture. Did I spend my time on worthy things? Will my life be what I hope? Will I contribute to the greater good? Will I become?
This is a strange both/and of adulthood: years bear wisdom, but age also brings more responsibilities, which are often banal, mundane, boring. My husband recently spent hours on the phone with our healthcare insurance company because someone else’s claim had been charged to our account. It was necessary and important, and yet mundane and extraordinarily time-consuming. As I have begun to reassume responsibilities, like finding employment, transferring utilities accounts, and attending to family commitments, I have found myself suppressing a deeper concern: if I allow myself to be swept along in the details, how will I uncover the wisdom I need to create a flourishing and meaningful life?
* * *
I lack, so often, the patience that is required for unfurling. I just want to know, now, thank you. But I am reminded by this season of turning over that life grows slowly. It evolves slowly. The mountains were shaped by glaciers. Trees will climb and stretch its limbs towards the sky for decades. Babies float in the womb for months. Relationships are built and rebuilt over the course of a lifetime. New life takes time to bloom, old life takes time to endure. Wisdom is found in the waiting, the space of deeper peace, the place where the questions and answers dwell together.