Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Transitions - Eleanor Shepherd

"Life is all about transitions."  If I was writing this about ten years ago I would likely have said that life is all about change.  However it seems that the idea of change has become so prevalent that it has taken on negative connotations. We can lose ourselves in change.  So now the operative word is transitions. It seems a little gentler.  When we transition to something it sounds like we are in a process of gradually letting go of what we had as we reach for what lies ahead.  In my mind, I hear a piano sonata that modulates gently from one theme to another, carrying us along with it.

It is true that life is all about transitions.  I have watched that over the last twenty months as I have interacted with my little granddaughter.  When she arrived she did little but eat, sleep and display normal bodily functions.  However our joy was in watching her awaken from sleep and discovering her expressions as slowly she began to respond to the world around her, beginning to transition from a neonate to an infant.  Before many weeks, she began to interact with the familiar faces and her first smiles appeared.

As her little body grew and developed, she began to transition into mobility.  Instead of remaining on her back in the crib, she learned to roll over and before long she was sitting up on her own and next thing we knew she was skittering across the floor having developed her own method of locomotion.  Transitions came fast and furiously as she began pulling herself into an upright position, learning to bear her weight on a her legs and feet and the next thing we knew she was walking and running.  No longer an infant, she had transitioned into a toddler.

Equally astounding to this rapid transition from complete physical dependence for mobility to independent locomotion has been the transition from muteness other than cries to indicate discomfort or distress to a mimicking of words in three different languages.  It began with the chuckles and chortles of delight at discovering she had a voice and could use it.  The transition to comprehension of what was being said to her seemed almost imperceptible until she began responding to the instructions given to her and it was clear that she was understanding the meaning of words.  To think that all of these transitions have happened in only twenty months is astounding.  Were the changes to continue to occur as frequently over the next twenty years, the future would be unimaginable.  Fortunately the pace slows. We become conscious that we can choose the role that we will play in transitions.  Sometimes the results are not what we anticipate.  Perhaps that is why as we age we are not as quick to embrace the changes.  Our ability to relish them declines when they do not always lead to life and growth.

What is the turning point? When do we move from anticipating change with joyful expectation to accepting transitions as inevitable.  What are the triggers that engender a change of perspective? Is it when we finish our formal schooling and discover that we need to enter into a world where we must transition from a form of dependence to autonomy, taking responsibility for our own future? Is it when we decide to enter into a significant relationship as we weave our lives together in the stability of support from a reliable life partner.  Is it when we finally find our career niche, doing something that brings us satisfaction in our daily labour?  Perhaps it comes with the growing awareness    that our active years in the labour market are quickly coming to a close or when we discover that our body is no longer reliable and presents us with unexpected health challenges.  Do these events cause us to feel more cautious about our transitions, knowing the eventually our places will be assumed by others and what then?

Transitions will at many points intersect with the life of faith. We can view change and transition as part of a megastory. Through all of the transitions of life, when we are people of faith, there is always an eternal element present.  All that we do and all that we are have repercussions beyond our present existence.  We know that our final transition will be into a glorious existence beyond what we can currently imagine.  In preparation for this, we can embrace the changes, though we may not always welcome them.  We will have the courage to move through the transitions buoyed by the knowledge that our lives are in the hands of One who enfolds us in His grace, through all the changes. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  


Word Guild Award 


Peter Black said...

Observant and sensitive and thoughtful -- thanks Eleanor. I like the gentle way you bring us to consideration of our ultimate transition, offering assurance of security through our relationship with the eternal One.
I was reminded of Moses' words: "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27). ~~+~~

Diana said...

Eleanor, you're right about the negative connotations of the word change. Transitions does seem a more positive word. Change makes me think of forced changes, at work, in life by financial setbacks, etc. But transitions seem more like rites of passage. It's all in the head of course, because many transitions are also out of our control, yet the emotional freight of the word still is good vs bad.

Next time I change my mind and my husband gets slightly irked I'll tell him I was just transitioning. :)

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter. I am so grateful for your kind words.

Diane: I think that is a great idea. I must try to remember that.

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