A friend of ours who is spending a year in Germany explained that the reason she had decided to keep her apartment here on the island was that, for her, Bainbridge was “true North.” I realized, hearing that, that I, too, have a true North: for me, it’s Shaw Island, where I lived when our girls were in grade school.
Fortunately we still have a double-wide in the woods there, and now that I am done with school I finally have time to visit it. So we left home a little after 6 this morning to begin the long overdue trek north, and I’m so grateful: I’ve really missed this place.
The house itself is no great shakes – the grass is all overgrown, and the moss on the roof is thriving. But inside is warm and welcoming, filled with the antiques we collected in Vermont before the kids were born and we moved out west, and the air inside and out is sweet with the scent of the Pacific Northwest woods – the house is surrounded by huge fir and cedar trees.
And the island greeted us with open arms; we ran into two dear friends just standing outside the general store, and expect to see more this evening. But the best part of the day was a tiny piece of total serendipity encountered en route.
Unbeknownst to us, the ferry has a new habit of stopping first at Orcas, and the Shaw cars, who were loaded first, had to get off the ferry and then line up to get back on after all the other cars had been offloaded and new cars loaded on to head back to the mainland.
We’d been struggling for several days to find a way to connect with our daughter – who’s working on Orcas this summer – while we were up north, but the ferry schedule wasn’t meshing well with her free time. So I sent her a text as we sat waiting for the ferry to unload and reload, telling her that we were unexpectedly visiting Orcas, and she called back immediately. “Mom, where are you?”
“At the Orcas ferry landing,” I replied.
“No, I mean, where are you parked? I’m here, too!” she responded.
Turned out, none of our earlier plans would have worked anyway, as she’d been delegated to drive one of the campers to Seattle, and was unlikely to be back on the island until after we’d returned home. So we got to spend a little time together at the ferry dock and on the brief trip to Shaw, sharing hugs and stories; it was lovely to see her.
“You know, sweetie,” I said to my husband as we pulled in to Shaw, “it’s times like this I KNOW there is a God.”
“Why? Because you got to see your kid?”
“No. Because we do all that planning and make everything so complicated, and God has a way of taking all the complications and making it simple so that everyone’s needs are met.”
I’m not sure he understood what I was trying to say. But that really is part of how I came to believe in God in the first place. I used to love to imagine scenarios for how situations would turn out, but God somehow always had a better plan.
It's lovely to be reminded, after all these years, that what I knew then still seems to be true... Guess I'm coming home in more ways than one.