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  • Shanley McConnell

Time Is Not Stationary As It Is Unchanging.

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We didn't realise, at first, that sometimes time is not stationary as it is unchanging------as it is so full of motion, tidal waves and static. We'd only been walking for around two hours, and we only should'a been walking for around two hours, but the road wound its way around another bend before us and we were at a loss.


Continue on, return back? We walked four paces forward.


My eyes kept blinking, shut, and the rocks were looking all the sharper for the distance; I think this distance was dragging its feet ahead of us. The whole earth seemed to be cracking under the sunshine as if, it too, felt as content as it is did cheated. It was all starting to look a bit like a desert; this sweet green mountainous terrain, and I would've kept on walking and walking if only I could've known when the walk would end.


You were walking just, there, right ahead of me with your eyes steeled and your mind set on reaching something. It didn't have to be the end, but you wanted to see something, and I was still, just, here, behind, seeing sand and rock and boot with every step.


I think if I hadn't just crumbled to my knees on the patch of green to the right side of rock and dust, we might not have ever just stopped.


And you let me sleep. At first, I didn't even know I had closed my eyes. Not until I opened them again to bright white and sunlight did I realise that the sky was singing in a new time.


For over a full hour, you laid your back against the rock beside me and waited-------watching the sun rise higher and higher until it was so warm that the earth felt as though it might wither away underneath you.


And when I woke, you did not complain; you rose and spoke of how you loved the heat of mid-day. How it was calming and healing, and then you were silent and I remember-------you must've wondered why I still so disoriented. How I balanced on the rocks so awkwardly that you walked just there, close behind me.


You asked me if the inside of my foot always arched towards the ground when I walked, and I said it must've because I didn't know to look down and see that it met every crack in the dust and dry of the lake-lands.


You weren't convinced, but we kept on-------for days and hours we kept at the mountains, climbing up, shouldering the weight of sweaters and boots and a water-bottle. Sometimes you carried mine for me, and other times, when we would stop to rest, I would lift the drinks, camera and case into my arms for a turn.


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A few weeks have passed, and I'm thinking of my sweet friend; the one who worried over me so many nights ago and told me I should drink more Vitamin C and rest------the one who wondered why my pace only shadowed energy; you tried to share yours with me, but really, there's only so much strength one can lend to another, and you had given me more than I could've asked.


This friend was right; days later, after long shifts at work and a return from our trip to the Lakes' District, my foot swelled up twice the size overnight. The world spun when I stood, and I couldn't feel my right leg.


Over the last week I've been in and out of the medical practice for blood-tests and X-rays, and while the prognosis is still undetermined, the doctors now reckon that I fractured a bone in my right foot a month or so ago without realising the severity of the injury.


This is when decisions are the most important, but you have no choice but to let the ground lie fallow. To let the unknowns rest, just there, outside the window. To let time do its work in the waiting.


The last few months have been so full of unknowns------of doors that open just enough to close again. Sometimes, I think, this unknown is as overwhelming as dread. I think it's because the unknown is unsettling. It warps the way we view everything we hold dear, everything familiar and safe. It seems to reinvent them in our mind, and convince us that they are lacking and finite.


I have learned something in this season of forced-fallowness. It is that I have become more receptive to unexpectedness in times of unsettledness.


Merriam-Webster defines unexpectedness as that which is unforeseen. A turn in events, a surprise. Macmillan expands upon this definition: something that is unexpected is surprising because you did not expect it at all, or, you expected it to happen another way.


In the past three years, I think a lot of my experiences were secure in an either/or. Either this or that. There was always just two sides to the coin, and I was content searching for something positive in both head and tail.


After graduation, life didn't evaluate itself the same way; it became a kaleidoscope of opportunities that rose and fell and lied, committing to no-one in particular, but promising something to anyone who exceeded subjectivity. And often, choices seemed to be constricted by a number of growing, unexpected, unsettling variables.


That's alright. But it isn't always easy to navigate. And I think it's alright to admit that this whole process of 'what-comes-next' is overwhelming. You can't foresee what you have no control over. The more one tries to control the uncontrollable, unforeseeable future, one can end up losing their ability to see and embrace the best in a turn of events.


This is the beauty of unexpectedness; it is a surprise from the one who is all-knowing, always in control, and forever-present.


Every morning I write down a verse; I never quite know what to expect because, despite the fact that I've probably not only read, but also highlighted it somewhere in the falling-apart-leather-beloved book on my shelf, I don't know which one will catch my eye first on that day.


The thing is it's always applicable-------exactly what I need on the day I read it even before I need it.


On this day, a week ago, I wrote it in cursive at the top of my binder in between all the other notes and entries from the previous day:


many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. - proverbs 19v21

Every plan I had made that week had fallen into my lap, and I was in tears; yet, here, this was a promise I knew would be kept by the same God who had kept every other promise He had ever made to me before this day. And as I wept, I knew I was not alone at this desk, smearing ink and cursive with salt and water on recycled paper.


It was this day that a beautiful woman on the other side of a telephone four hundred and thirty-two miles away reached out with accommodation for the girl whose status as local-international, part-time limited her from all other options.


As I prepare now to move down to Oxford, I pray:


Let this be a place where purpose thrives on promises kept, and where promises are made without fear of failing those who keep them close.


Let this living space become a place where faith is as sure as a one-sided coin, and let all who call this place home be surprised by the unexpected sweetness and wonder of unknown things.


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