of waiting and not leaving yourself behind

And suddenly I do not feel as if I am going anywhere at all any more.

I had been booked on flights from Adelaide to Edinburgh, leaving Monday just gone. I was ready to go - perhaps not in the practicalities, but I would have got it all done, the adrenaline pumping energy for the constructing of a storage shed and filling it with the 50 or so boxes not going with me to Scotland, final packing of my bags, washing and storing of sheets and quilt and pillow … But I was ready, emotionally, soulfully, cognitively, for the realising of a long-held dream, the living into the goal to pursue a PhD exploring the performance of biblical stories.

By Friday last week, however, I still had not received my passport back with my student visa inside, and so I called the travel agent and postponed departure by a week. Hanging up from that conversation was like flicking the off switch. The adrenaline stopped pumping. Energy levels plummeted. I stopped.

In all honesty, the gift of this delay was a chance to stop. After a year of applying for numerous grants and scholarships, the deflation of rejected applications, the incredibly stressful act of moving house - and the arrangements to sell or give away most of my furniture in anticipation - and exploration of a complicated possibility in the event of no funding coming through, I was already exhausted. Then the call came, the day after moving house, that one more scholarship was on offer, to add to the small ones I had managed to accumulate - I was going to start my PhD after all. I was going to move to Scotland after all - and in six weeks!

Six weeks of goodbyes to family, friends, colleagues and congregation. Six weeks of organising details, cancelling, changing, commencing plans and subscriptions and memberships (and I'm not a details person). Six weeks of packing (or, more accurately, re-packing, since I hardly unpacked anything after moving house, and had packed for that move anticipating - hoping for - this bigger one).

So I am well in need of a rest. If only it wasn't also one more week of anxious waiting.

If only it didn't mean repeated and prolonged farewells.

If only …

Now there's a path that rarely leads to productive outcomes. If only. There is no 'if only' - because time for us marches in one direction, and forward we must go with time, for standing still, looking back, searching for alternative outcomes results in the 'splinching' of JK Rowling's world of magic - a leaving behind of part of ourselves in a painful, harmful wrenching.

And yet, I cannot go on, not yet. I am standing still, pausing, waiting in a liminal space that is characteristic of all liminal spaces - it is awkward, uncertain, uncomfortable, scary.

Will my visa arrive back in time for me to arrive in Scotland before it becomes awkward (week two is really the latest I should be arriving, I will arrive in week one as it is)?

Will it come back at all? Has it got lost?

Will my passport arrive back, but with no visa? What then?

There is no answering these questions. There is only hope, trust, that I have done all I can, despite one or two mistakes along the way, and the visa will come through, in time.

And in the mean time, I wait.

I wait with my suitcases packed, sitting unzipped in the family room awaiting the final items still needed in these final days.

While I wait I have read a couple of books, seen a few people not able to say goodbye till now, and taken my time with the final practical preparations.

And I have rested. Probably not nearly enough for the waterfall of exhaustion cascading upon me now that I have stopped paddling away from it. I hope enough for a tidier departure (leaving less for my sister to do once I'm gone), and a more relaxed arrival (rather than barrelling in all adrenaline and stress).

As I wait, I am mindful that there is still so much gift in this season, in this opportunity that I cannot be anything but grateful, even though the waiting is hard. Gratitude meets the temptation toward 'if only' with gentle confidence to accept what is, enabling me to avoid the splinching of bitterness, regret and resentment; and though I am not moving forward just yet, I will remain present in this current moment, not looking back or for the if onlys, ready to move when the time comes.


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