When I stand on my front porch, I can’t see a single house. Trees, soybeans and corn stubble populate the landscape. I like it that way.
But around the curve to the north, there’s lots of activity. I have new neighbors.
A small dairy farm up the road has been sold to an Amish family. Earlier in the week, with a light drizzle wetting my car windshield, I saw the lady of the house optimistically hanging laundry on the clothesline outside her back door. I’m used to seeing Amish dresses, trousers and solid-colored shirts waving in the breeze as I drive through my rural county, but I wondered at her choice to taunt the weatherman.
In the farm’s pasture, beautiful brown and tan Haflinger horses graze peacefully. On the other side of the barn and house, sheep gather around a feeder. Both are a welcomed new sight on my trips to town.
Further north, sows and their litters have moved into the neighborhood. An industrious livestock farmer recently purchased the empty pasture beyond the Amish farm. He is expanding his hog operation. Little metal Quonsets dot the field and wend their way into the woods. I know some of these pigs will show up on the menu at high-class Chicago restaurants, along with the organic, free-range poultry the farmer raises. For now, I count the hogs among my new neighbors.
Stay in one place long enough and there are bound to be changes. Most, like new neighbors, are pleasant and welcomed.
But sometimes, change comes unbidden, heralding a shift in the status quo that threatens to rock my world. How I respond to change that’s unsettling is actually more significant than the change itself.
Being unsettled isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s awfully easy to get comfortable — in a rut, so to speak. Doing the same thing the same way again and again doesn’t challenge my creativity or cause me to think outside the box. But throw me a curve ball, and I just might learn a new skill or gain a fresh perspective.
I’ve been given some new responsibilities lately, asked to do a few things in a different way. Just when everything seemed to be running smoothly — in my job, in my church, among friends, with my kids — it appears there are changes afoot.
It’s been disconcerting. In some ways, a little painful. But mostly, its just been different.
So what do I do with that? I think I’ll roll with it, because if I accept the shift in my personal landscape, I might begin to see things with fresh eyes.
Besides, experience has taught me that to resist change means I might also slam the door on something really interesting or exciting, something with the potential to enrich my world and cause me to grow as a person.
Even when it comes to welcoming new neighbors. The reality is that as much as I’m enjoying the horses, sheep and hogs I pass in my travels, the aroma they contribute to our neighborhood reminds me that I live in the middle of farm country. You can’t have one without the other.
I guess every change has both pluses and minuses. I’d rather look for the opportunities than count the inconveniences.