A Slice of Life from Charlestown – Volume 1: A Map of New Beginnings

I’m sitting in the window seat of our little red house in Charlestown. I love that I have already discovered this sweet space for writing, thinking, staring off into space, and yes – even crying.

My view to one side is of fall mums, birds of all kinds, and fat squirrels that shamelessly steal the bird seed. To the other I see our favorite books, arranged meticulously by country. It is a wonderful sight and the treasures and stories that rest in our bookshelves are remarkable. It would take me more than the lifetime I have to read all these books, but I press forward anyway.

It hurt a bit to write the title of this blog. I loved writing my slice of life from Kurdistan posts, bringing you into both the joys and struggles of our world so many miles away. But I am grateful to you who read, because you have not stopped reading just because I have returned. You read Communicating Across Boundaries before I left, you read it while I was away, and you are reading now that I’m back. I may feel deeply that I’ve let you down – but you certainly don’t communicate that back to me. From my heart I thank you.

I have felt my third culture personhood acutely these past weeks. From getting lost to struggling with identity, I have lost my reference points. I am finding this to be a major task in this new space – to find my markers, to establish my map of yet another new beginning.

A week and a half ago, our younger daughter got married. Friends and family came from around the world to celebrate on an island in New Hampshire. It was a privilege to be a part of this. Brilliant weather and a crystal clear lake created a stunning setting for this beautiful couple. There were so many times during the weekend when I watched my daughter’s (now) husband reach out his hand to lend support or wrap his arms around her in complete love. It was more than lovely – it was extraordinary. ⠀

Watching my adult children gather around their sister in love and support was also extraordinary. There are no guarantees in raising children that they will grow to love and support each other, and like any family, we have had our share of fights and anger, of miscommunication and “how dare you”s. But gather they did, helping in every conceivable way. We brought the celebration to a height through a family dance to Mamma Mia, a twist to the traditional father/daughter dance. I looked at my kids during the dance, all of us singing at the top of our lungs in pure joy. Words fail as I try to describe this, but the memory is enough.

How many times in a mom’s life do we want to press the pause button, rewind, and record? Capture the beauty and sweetness for those days when the tears fall and our souls ache with the collective grief of our kids?

During the wedding weekend I longed to press the pause button, freeze frame the joy and relaxation we had together. That wasn’t possible, but breathing and pressing into each moment was possible. There was no manipulation, no desire to control the way we moms sometimes do. Instead, minute by minute passed by in delight and joy. 

After the wedding I lost a full week to sickness – fever, cold, weakness and fatigue knocked me down. I’m slowly getting back up, but beyond that, things are still not clear. I have a few consulting jobs, but I find myself embracing those only in so far as they help pay the bills. Perhaps that is enough right now, a friend reminds me.

I am in my map of new beginnings. I find that though I try to use the old maps, each new beginning has a different map. While some markers may stay the same, the topography changes. Where are the bumps and the traffic problems? Where does this detour go? Do I do this or do I do that? Do I go here or do I go there? What landmarks can I rely on? My personal experiences and bearing witness to events in places creates memory landmarks. I find yet again that it is all about connection to place. While some of these are the same, many are completely new. Not only that, I have changed by being away, and my community has changed as well. This changes the map.

There are spiritual implications to this map of new beginnings and I find myself clinging to my faith. This is a landmark I understand. Though I have doubted in the past, I have always returned to this light. It doesn’t change the feelings, but it does provide a solid foundation where the feelings can rest and find a home.

In this map of new beginnings, my heart knows that I will find my way. It will take time. There will be tears and I will get lost. But today, as I made my way to a coffee shop to meet with an old friend, I didn’t look at a map.

I found my way there and I found my way home.

7 thoughts on “A Slice of Life from Charlestown – Volume 1: A Map of New Beginnings

  1. Your writings inspire so much and I always save your posts until I can have a cup of tea and quiet spot to truly relish them. I have been “grounded” this last year somewhat with my work and am unsettled and searching. I don’t know what it will lead to but I keep having faith that paths will come to me. Until then I drink copious cups of tea and try to read uplifting works. There will be another Kurdistan for you I know. So many in the world need your thoughts. Maybe that is your focus just now:)


  2. Isaiah 30:21 The Passion Translation (TPT)
    21 When you turn to the right or turn to the left,
    you will hear his voice behind you to guide you, saying,
    “This is the right path; follow it.”[a]

    I love the way you weave in the MAP as both metaphor and reality, sometimes needed, and sometimes not. Tea in the MAP ROOM wraps it up.


  3. What a wonderful post, Marilyn, especially the part where your whole family gathered together for a new beginning of a shared life together. – the wedding of your daughter. God’s richest blessings as they begin this journey together. And, I pray that you may feel God’s embrace when you feel the need of it.
    All the best, Elizabeth


  4. Marilyn Dear, J just read this most heart felt rendition to Fred while driving towards the North Rim if the Grand canyon. Fred is going to Lee’s Ferry to fly fish.

    I was on the verge of tears all the way through and totally exiliated by your amazing gift of writing. I think it might be time for a novel. 🤗🌵

    As you continue to journey through the known and unknown, be assured of our love and prayers.


  5. Marilyn, I am so grateful that you have continued writing, especially on a day when my boss announced something that will likely end my current career path (no, I’m not getting fired!). I have wanted to do other things (including a return to overseas living) but have been too comfortable here. Now I must welcome change, and in that, your writing has been a beacon and a foundation to remind me that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.


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