I have a dear friend who closes with all shall be well. It's a battle cry and motto, but it's also a deep seeded belief. A series of words that she holds to when the sand passes through her fingers or there is no foothold in the wall. She's beautiful and kind and full of Jesus. She loves her family and her community. She brings awareness to what is important to her. She's also not long for this world.
It makes my heart squeeze in a manner I'm only too familiar with.
Growing up, September was about the roar of that big stadium in Ann Arbor, the crisp bite of a breeze, the cheer in the air. It was back-to-school clothes and waiting at the bus stop and the first hint of the brilliance of the trees. I met new teachers, lost teeth, found a routine, and loved every minute of all of it. Fall was my favorite, and September brought about all of the things that made it so, for she was the promise of all that was to come.
Promises are interesting beasts. As kids, we pinky-swore, crossed-our-hearts, and made pacts. I believed in the power of promise, much like I believed in magical creatures and fairy tales. Those letters strung together held power, the "I promise I'll be your friend forever" or "I pinky-swear you can spend the night at my house". In that era the words were simpler, but no less genuine. They were the deals that we thought would last forever in those days that went from long to short. They were the vocabulary of childhood.
As I've grown older promise doesn't hold any less weight, but I approach her with care. It's not that she's failed me, but rather that I view her with caution. We think, as kids, that we'll have all the things as we age. The friends and the life and the career and the dreams and none of it will be transitory. As adults, we come to learn that we do have all the things, but in different measure and time than what we imagined them to be. All shall be well is too a promise of sorts, in different nature. These are not words that assure us our lives will be easy or perfect, but that they will be full. That they will hold weight and matter. That it will be according to what is intended for us, not for what we hope and dream and plan for ourselves. It will not be good. It will be well.
Which is why I ache.
Sweet September was always a promise of what I held dear and treasured. Now she's a reminder of it. In the leaves I see a million variations and colors. I watch them start to fall and reminded of how quickly they move from vibrant to fading, and the beauty that occurs in the transition. It's in the in-between that we see that all will be well. Even as each brilliant leaf begins her trajectory toward the ground, toward home, she's stunning. Ablaze in color she dances through the air, fulfilling the promise of change.