It is winter. I miss you.
It is winter. I miss you-- the call of the wild among the mountains and you. You had a tenacious desire to know more-- to scour the landscape and find answers. You are amazing. Absolutely brilliant and utterly filled with ideas. You, you young millenials, wanting to become who you had always dreamed you could be. Leaving your houses and homes to find yourself in the mountains of NC. To walk among your journey was such an honor. I see you working big jobs in big cities, living out West, hiking on the weekends, staying close to your friends, getting married, having children, leading churches, leading people, saving the land, being kind. I am proud. I miss you.
I heard that doing the right thing is easy. However, two years later, I am here to proclaim that is not true at all. Doing the right thing is ridiculously hard, excruciatingly painful, and terribly sad. It means saying to all that you know and all that you know to be true to HOLD. It means asking those you love and those that you have lived among to WAIT. It means saying GOODBYE. Goodbye to life as you know it; to life as we know it.
It means missing graduations and birthdays, and special moments like campfires and the full moon. It means leaving-- making new friends and greeting new ridge lines. It means new shorelines and new star movements and new. It means we are no longer rotating around each other daily and that life can be lonely. It means you become and I am not there to celebrate or teach you. It is hard and laborious and utterly heart shocking.
And yet, doing the right thing feels religious. Like it was somehow my birthright and made for me. Doing the right thing makes me feel part of something bigger than me, something that holds this whole world together.
“If I am going to be honest” (in the words of one of favorite Caribbean students) I so wish I could have just kept my mouth shut and gone on with business as usual. It would have made everything easier. But, life it is not meant to be easy. It is meant to be true.
So, this New Year as I reflect on my personal journey and my tiny place in this giant universe here is what I have to say you wonderful students young and somewhat young, “Do the right thing (even when it hard). Say goodbye and say hello. Live out your birthright”. Gosh, I miss you.
Backstory: My name is Mel Wilson and I lived for twenty-one years outside Asheville, NC near the home of Billy Graham. I went to a small Presbyterian College that taught me to love, to question, and to be just. Over the years our town and college changed just as everything in the world does. I would have called myself an evangelical and then suddenly President Trump took office and I realized I wasn’t an evangelical at all. I still loved people and I still loved God, but my life could not continue in a business-as-usual operandum. I needed to change and it was not pleasant. My word for the year (when I drew it out of random hat) was “sober”. To be sober means to be in your right mind; to know fully. For so long I thought I knew everything. I was an academic after all (and an evangelical). I had the answers.
When, Trump came into office, I was asked how I felt about several political and societal issues and I said, “It’s complicated”. No really, that is how I felt, it is complicated. This day, literally 722 days later, I still say, “It’s complicated.” So, I moved to the Virgin Islands where I can be me, where life doesn’t have to be black and white, and where people love each other just because. It is good here, and I am well taken care of. But, when I think back on my previous life: My career, my house, my town, my friends, my students...I think ‘“It’s complicated.”