I began writing this column 10 years ago. In January 1999, I was 28 years old, married for less than two years and living in a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver. Now it is January 2009, and I am 38 years old, married for less than two years and living in a three-
bedroom home on 72 acres in rural Nova Scotia.
In between was a winding road: I divorced, moved home to Ontario, helped care for a father with Alzheimer’s, wrote a novel, welcomed several of my sister’s kids into the family, supported my mother through her bout with cancer, and fell truly, madly, deeply in love (which is so completely out of character that it could be considered a miracle).
Excuse me for a moment while I sit down with my head between my knees. Written out, it seems like an awful lot happened in the past 10 years. I have shared much of it in this magazine and yet managed to avoid embarrassing my mother (I hope).
If this were a normal column, I’d be telling you all about my flock of chickens — 22 egg-laying hens and one rooster. If chickens can be a symbol of something spiritual, they are the sign that I am finally where I am supposed to be. Living the way God wants me to live. I’m certain these chickens are winged messengers of God (does that make my eggs divine?) because God contacted me before, you know.
The day I drove away from my life in Vancouver, it was raining. Shortly after, I turned onto the street that would lead me to the highway. As soon as I began heading east, the clouds parted, and a bright stream of light shone into my eyes. For 10 seconds. The clouds closed in again, and it rained for the next four hours. I knew exactly what that message was: You’re heading in the right direction.
It still took me another five years to get here, to this place but also to this point.
This is my final column for The Observer. Although this decision was made eight months ago, it wasn’t until I wrote that sentence that the significance hit me. This is a big deal. After all, The Observer has made me the writer I am today. My first article appeared in this magazine in 1994. The one constant has been David Wilson, who is the last person to edit my column before it goes to print; I am glad to have worked with him as the editor. In fact, the people who bring you this magazine every month made me an award-winning writer, so I am proud and lucky to call myself an Observer writer.
This is a good time to “retire.” I’m not so restless anymore. I’m quite content, actually. In this quiet, beautiful space I now call home, my thoughts and ideas are expanding; my work is heading in a direction that seems to require letting go — again. There are still a few stories I would like to tell you, but it’s the right time to move on.
I hope the decision to stop writing this column after 10 years, after a year of my best writing, means a new door is about to open. Or a light is about to shine. Perhaps one of my hens will lay an egg that resembles the visage of Jesus.
Thank you for being part of this strange and wondrous journey with me.
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