Monday, February 25, 2008

In Praise of Transitions - Schneider

Experienced writers will tell you that one of the key components of good writing is the transition. The way in which a story moves the reader between scenes, time frames or points of view is crucial to its success. The best transitions are those of which the reader remains unaware.

I’m discovering that I want the transitions in my “real life” to be just as subtle. The transition between winter and spring here in Northern Alberta lasts for two to three months, and always puts me on edge. One day will be sunny, beautiful (and sloppy) and the next several a repeat of winter weather. I want to stamp my feet and just whine. “Sunshine already!”

Both of my children are in transition phases, as well. (Are children ever not in transition in some way?) There are days when it seems the lessons and values we’re trying to pass along are actually making a difference. There are other days when we seriously wonder if anything we’ve said has made an impact.

As a military spouse, a huge transition comes my way about every third year, as we prepare to move to a different community, often even a different side of the country. Much preparation goes into the move, leaving me with a “neither here nor there” feeling for weeks at a time. I just want to go unconscious until the whole process is over.

However, if I’ll let them, these transitions can be vivid pointers toward Heaven. Scripture tells us that we are just travellers on this earth, that nothing we see, have or experience here is permanent. We are in the ultimate transition. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that all of creation groans and travails with us until we’re all renewed together in the likeness of the One who created us.

Travail ... yes, that word brings to mind the most dramatic transition of my life, one which I’ve experienced twice, and which many women will tell you is not even remotely enjoyable. It’s the phase of labour just prior to the baby actually being born. It follows hours of pain (for many of us, anyway), and is the prelude to the incredible intense physical effort of pushing. I remember my prenatal instructor telling me, months before the experience that “transition” is when the labouring mother most wants to give up, when the job of getting this baby into the world feels endless and unendurable. She said those feelings were supposed to remind me that the job was almost done, that very soon, I’d be holding my little one. And she was right. I did want to give up. I did feel as if I couldn’t handle another moment of agony. And I was within an hour of meeting my child face to face, an hour away from all the struggle and pain fading into insignificance as I cuddled my little one close.

That’s what I need to remember when the other earthly transitions make me want to weep with frustration or give up the effort to stay true to the path my Father puts before me. Transition means change is happening, even if I can’t see it. Transition means the really good part is almost here. Transition reminds me that Heaven is but a whisper away.

Janelle Schneider

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