It is autumn. It is a time that signifies the end of something, the beginning of something else, and the “in between.” It is a time when the old life withers and new life eventually emerges. It is a time of change.
So many of us are truly afraid of change, but change is something we cannot avoid. It is part of life no matter what. It is the relinquishing of the old, the bringing about of the new, and the eventual merging of the soul with both. It is the beginning of new life. It is normal. This is life. It is what life does; it seeks to express itself through us, and it seeks to express itself by the big C word: CHANGE.
The moment we see, feel, or intuit change coming is sometimes the moment of panic. At this moment, we are at the crest of new life, the moment of unclear action. We cannot see the future, we want to remain in the present, but life demands us to move on to the “new,” no matter what that “new” might be.
It is at this time that we are in what I call the “Unexpected Gap.” The universe is always changing without resistance and moving forward. Our role is to go with it. However, we all resist change to one extent or another depending on what we believe change means. Some of us view change as something incredibly awful, and we resist it with all our strength. Others embrace change and welcome it as the life-giving and healing source it can be in our lives. Some of us acknowledge change but continue to deny that it is happening, so we continue to live in the old season. We don’t accept it and choose to remain stagnate. For some of us, it takes a lifetime to embrace change.
When I was an active teenager decades ago, abrupt change was cast on me as I ventured home one day and found my mother in a stroke-induced coma. Nothing could have prepared me for this moment. Nothing. It was not expected. It was not even anywhere on my radar (or anyone else’s). CHANGE (very painful change, I might add) was thrust upon me like a brick thrown at my face. It was the worst disaster that hit my family from out of nowhere.
The emotions I felt back then were so intense and confusing. I could not even ponder how I was going to get through the rest of my life without my mother. I felt angry at God and did not understand why this was happening; I felt incredible sadness (Mom was only forty-six); I was confused; I felt guilty because I had gotten in a stupid fight with my mother that morning before she dropped flat-faced on the bathroom floor, and I was not able to say goodbye to her; I wanted answers but they did not come. It took two weeks for my mom to eventually die. For those two weeks, I was in my “unexpected gap.” My life would never be the same again.
I am not alone. We all have our unexpected gaps. I have learned that space, that moment, that time between the old and the new, that unforeseen, painful, elusive gap (of whatever length of time) is the point where the release of the present meets the manifestation of the new; it is the point of no return. It is also the point at which, if not heeded and embraced, we remain stuck. It is our autumn.
Decades after the death of my mother, I finally understood what that unexpected gap wanted from me. I now know why I felt the feelings I felt, too. I discovered that it is my responsibility, no matter how arduous, to see, feel, and embrace the change that comes within my gap. I know now that I felt angry and confused back then because I was afraid of “the unexpected gap:” I wanted to trust only what was familiar and wanted to remain there. I felt sad because I did not and could not see or embrace my life without Mom; I felt guilty because I had chosen to argue with my mother that unforgettable morning instead of telling her I loved her. I lacked faith in what was to come, in the personal growth that was to occur, in the process of life. I did not accept that Mom’s passing (for whatever mysterious reasons) was my gap.
Can anyone truly explain why anyone dies at a specific time or why things happen the way they do? The answer will always remain elusive, but I do know this: autumn comes every year whether we are prepared or not. Unexpected change will come. And, that “gap” we all experience in one form or another is a chance for release, growth, and the eventual emerging of change and of new life.
Accept the change. Grow from it. And heed the gap.
2 replies on “The Unexpected Gap: Thoughts on the In-Between of Life, Change, and All That”
Thank you for this incredibly timely reminder, Vilma!