Today is one year since I arrived in Canada. I’ve known it was coming. I’ve been deciding if I wanted to write again on this cob-webbed filled corner of the interwebs. It has been on the horizon for a few weeks – since I looked ahead back in May to find a time in June and realised I could combine a housewarming and ‘Canadaversary’.
But since then I’ve been plagued by it. What do I have to say about another manufactured milestone during my 28 years of life? What should I write? Do I want to write? Why do people care to read the thoughts, struggles and joys of a privileged white girl having grand adventures in another wealthy country? I’m already an oversharer on Instagram and to the poor souls around me, why subject the world to it too? And with that you’ve discovered the reason for the dust on the mantlepiece.
Alas, I’ve decided to blow off the top layer for some light reflection. If nothing else, future Melanie will enjoy reading current Melanie’s reflections on past Melanie’s adventures.
Today is one year since I arrived in Canada. I baked beaver cupcakes to celebrate and went about a usual workday. After work my church community group had our monthly visit to a local aged care facility. We run a brief chapel service and then chat with the residents. The first song we selected was my grandmother’s favourite: “Great is thy faithfulness”.
The second verse and chorus got me.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” Lord, unto me!
Yes. That’s exactly it. Through all the seasons, each once leaving me in awe more than the former, God has been faithful. Although some mornings I failed to see the new mercies, I can confidently say in hindsight he has had my life in his hands and hath provided.
In summer, He gave me much needed rest.
Through autumn, He sustained me.
Even in winter, He gifted joy.
And come spring, He provided healing and hope.
Rarely a week has gone past without someone asking “why Vancouver?” And for 52 weeks I’ve stuck to same script: I’m chasing mountains – mountains to climb up and mountains to ski down. Prod a little more and I’ll tell you I also was looking forward to experiencing seasons. Brisbane has summer and hell (the humidity requiring 3 showers per day period lasting December-February). Sydney has summer and winter, but visually it’s fairly stable. Canada, not so much.
This year in Canada has taught me the value of seasons. Each season is so distinct. We love to talk about ‘seasons of life’, but this year they were accompanied by new visual cues and emotional stimuli.
Arriving in June, I set off across the country filled with hope. My adventures through the Rockies were a dream, the Stampede a hoot and the Atlantic a lobster-filled feast. Indeed all nature was a witness to God’s masterpiece that is this world. I was so ready to leave Brisbane and four months as a lady of leisure and ‘f-unemployment’ was exactly the rest and refreshment I needed.
As the fun of summer faded, weeks of job applications manifested, and transition was in the air. The bright green leaves turned to crisp amber and my days once again became marked by M-F 8-4 routine. Those were tired days. New job, new colleagues, new church, new home. Soon the reality set in just as the gutters filled with damp decomposing mess with the days of drizzle. I was in the homesickness slump. I decided in the despondence of a new normal it would be a great time to jump into the world of dating apps. So wise…Halloween I met him and I don’t remember a day in November we spent together where it didn’t rain. It was over as fast as it begun.
Then the still nakedness of winter set in. The days became short, the mornings cold. Layering became the reality. And finally there was snow. Pure white bliss was dusted across the mountains. The bitter cold was justified, we could endure. More than endure, we could thrive. I skied on Christmas Day. What even? I was skiing most weekends, sometimes during the week. Bouncing back from the false start, I went on another date: January. He offered to get me pregnant on our first date. Finally, a sense of humour I could identify with. In February the city was blanketed in pure and simple white. What a joy! And footsteps in snowy February, took us into March and April. I was no longer new at work, I had community and friends and I had a cute boy who wanted to spend time with me.
The double figure temps started popping up with the first little buds of green on the frail empty branches. New beginnings. And then a few days later, blossoms. Everything from bright fuscia to pale pink. But blink and you’ll miss them. And so it was with another short lived relationship. Blossoming one day, trampled on the footpath the next. Oh the disappointment. But as I found out, after the blossoms, the leaves return. The branches fill once again with big bright green leaves. And so I moved into my first solo home and filled my empty rooms with Facebook sourced furniture. The challenge to furnish for sub-$2000 was achieved. Yes, I cried on the floor of my empty apartment on the first night, left a couch in a friend’s backyard for a few days and begged 2 strangers off the street to carry furniture into my apartment. But 6 weeks in I welcomed friends into my home. Next week I start a string of hosting duties at ‘Casa Mel’. It’s everything I hoped it could be.
As sure as the sun is rising in the east, and setting on the glorious west coast, as sure is God’s faithfulness during this past year. I absolutely acknowledge the opportunity and privilege it is to jump across the world for as many years as I feel led. But moving to a place where things seem so similar but are in fact different is tiring. The adventures, friendships, brief relationships, moving and sustaining it all with a bank balance that started back at zero in October did break me. But the friends I’ve met, the community that has invited me in, the colleagues who deal with my oversharing and verbal processing and mighty, faithful and forgiving God sustained me.
Canada. What a year it has been! Such an adventure and huge year of learning. I am so thankful I am I stepped out of my comfort zone and had a gracious God to catch me when I fell. But to be back in summer and enjoying the sunshine welcoming friends and family to my home away from home, morning by morning new mercies I see – particularly now I have block out blinds and not cursing the first light at 4.30am.