Concerning Change and Bacon Gouda Sandwiches

speedy changeCan we talk for a moment about the indignity of spending $10.75 on 2 pieces of 6 day old bread surrounding a substance made of more nitrates than turkey flesh?

I speak, of course, of Airport food.

A few moments ago, I found myself faced with the difficult dilemma of airport induced hanger, or a stale sandwich. In the end, I rejected the food stand sandwich in favor of a comparable choice at Starbucks. At least this overly expensive, stale bundle of preservatives comes with chips.

This choice was thrust upon me by Starbucks’ lack of Bacon and Gouda Breakfast sandwiches.

In days of old—by which I mean when I attended college—each trip home to Colorado from the Santa Ana airport was accompanied by a happy tradition: a bacon and gouda breakfast sandwich and a tall mocha with whip. This carb, sugar, dairy filled treat was one that heartened me for the homeward journey. I looked forward to it. I counted on it.

Today, I am flying home from Santa Ana, but alas... No bacon gouda breakfast sandwich.

Considering this with a hint of disappointment, I mournfully popped a potato chip in my mouth. My tastebuds swiftly made me aware that the chips were not original sea salt, as I expected, but vinegar. I sigh and resign myself to the eye-watering sourness.

Life, it seems, is conspiring to remind me that nothing is the same as it was.

This whole visit has reminded me of this fact.

On a whim I decided to go back and visit my dearest college friends. I stayed with my college roommate. We visited our old haunts, talked about everything, laughed a lot, showed each other our favorite new shows, ate like we were still Freshman, and took too many pictures. My soul was filled.

But accompanying the lovely time we had was a slight ache.

Everything is different.

Things are changing.

You can’t get back what you once had.

This was particularly evident on a visit to my old favorite coffee shop, the Night Owl.

The Night Owl was our place during college. On my last day in California, we decided to go back for a visit. In defiant opposition to the heat, L and E and I sat with hot beverages in hand. In the comfort of easy conversation we talked about post-graduate life, our years, our disappointments, our surprise, our unsureties, and our hopes. In the presence of my friends I felt at home; I belonged.

And yet, I didn’t belong in the Night Owl anymore.

The Night Owl was significant for me. When I was an Resident Advisor, I escaped on Fridays to the high back chairs and mediocre americanos as a reprieve from the constant and necessitated extroversion of my job. I wrote countless papers there. I had deep thoughts about the opening passages of Dante’s inferno there. I ate too many ham and cheese croissants there. The baristas knew me.

But now, I don’t belong. This place has no context for me. It is a Walmart print in the photo album of my life. Californians with tan skin and hipster glasses slip in and out of the curtained front door with ease, but I feel too pale, and I don’t belong.

Perhaps you understand this. Perhaps you have returned to a place that was once yours, only to discover it has moved on without you. And you have moved on as well.


There is a lot of change in my life right now. My sister is getting married. I am moving to Scotland, Joel to Cambridge, Nathan is settling in New York. My life no longer has a gravitational pull to one place. I have felt a shift in my life, a sense of forward motion and of urgency... though I can’t quite articulate what for. When I step on the plane to the UK this August, I don’t quite know where life will take me next. It’s exhilarating. And, somehow, sad.

It’s a lot for my little heart to hold.

Everything is different.

Things are changing.

You can’t get back what you once had.

You can’t even order a bacon and gouda breakfast sandwich.

It is often said that the only thing you can count on in life is change. I don’t think that this is true; there are ties stronger than the ceaseless beating forth of life. But change, in somethings, even in most, is inevitable. Nothing remains static. If we do not change, we cannot grow. And if that is true, a great deal of my life will be contingent on how I respond to change.

Grief and embrace. These are the ideas I've been wrestling in this season of life. To embrace change, you must release parts of the past. A friend’s mother of mine recently recounted her daughter’s wedding. She said it was beautiful; everything they could have wished. And yet, that the day after the wedding she found herself totally undone, bleary eyed. She said it felt like grieving.

Change begets and requires grief. It’s hard to believe sometimes that something good could require us to grieve. But, really, grief is a response to loss. And even in the best of life’s changes, there is something lost. Familiarity, security, closeness, innocence, childhood. It is right and good to grieve because it helps us let go of the past— even if the past was very good— so we might embrace whatever gift God offers us in change.

And so we must release... something. So that we have willing and able arms to embrace.

As the ancient Preacher in writes, “There is a time to embrace, and a time to turn away” (Ecclesiastes 3:5).

In change there is grief, and there is embrace, but I also believe that beating beneath the frantic dance of life, there is something sturdy and steady.

We live in uncertain times. I confess that sometimes I look at my world, the headlines, and the events of my own life and am stymied; what will my world look like in 10, 20, 30 years? It is not for me to know, not until I get there. But I confess that if all I was guaranteed in life was change, I might crumple. And yet, I find that in this gypsy life, there are roots in my heart that can’t be ripped up. Chords of love and faith that tether me.

Love and Faith.

My love for my dear ones, my family, my closest friends is a root that means no matter where life takes me, I belong. In Hannah Coulter (2004), Wendell Berry describes “The Room of Love.” It is the space in our heart that we allow our loved ones into, and where their love stays no matter what. Near and far, life and death make no difference, the love is still present in our hearts. What could be more rooting than that? I give in love, and am given abundantly more. I choose to invest in love because it is the only thing that transcends fear and change. In the love I give and share, I always belong. No matter what change comes. Love casts out fear. And that is good because I am so often afraid of change.

And Faith.

Faith for me is a matter of trust. It is a covenant held between me and God in which my end of the deal is to lean into his faithfulness, and trust that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. Someday, at least. In my heart I find a spark of hope that beating at the heart of the universe is not hate, or violence, or nothingness, but love. That tethers me. That sets me free to embrace change without fear.

And all these thoughts because of a bacon and gouda sandwich.

It’s amazing how much a breakfast sandwich can symbolize isn’t it?

As I munch, I can’t help but wonder what my airplane rituals will become when I fly home from the UK.

I’m flooded with images of the new and unfamiliar. Happy butterflies flutter in my belly. I think morosely and momentarily of how quickly this new context will pass.

But I quiet my mind. No need to go there yet.

I need only take the next step.

It's time to board.