Last month, Heather Casimere wrote about the long, complex journey of coming to The Seattle School and learning to tell her story with integrity and care. Here, Heather continues that story by reflecting on the person she is becoming in this new city and new community. In the midst of the wilderness, Heather writes that she is blooming as she steps more fully into who God created her and called her to be.

Almost six months into this adventure, I am coming to know my way around this dewy city. I have a go-to Pho place on deck. A local gym I frequent. I’ve ventured into some neighborhoods: Greenwood, Ballard, Fremont. Friendships are forming, community is evolving. Assignments and work are being turned in. Settling in for the ride, I find myself faced with the question: “What is this place to me?”

I have lived in many cities. I know the liberal, urban delight of undergraduate youth in the City by the Bay. My footsteps have raced the pulse, pulse, pulse of the heartbeat of a Big Apple. I am familiar with both the access to beauty and the claustrophobia that come with residing in the heart of northern California’s technology hub. Now, I find myself in this new place. Inhabiting new space.

Seattle is not my party town. This is not a season of tequila shots or serial dating. This place is not about acceptance, nor independence. I’m not trying to be a rebel right now. I have lived each of those seasons, tried them all on for size. No, Seattle is different.

Seattle seems to be “the call.” Where I step into my name. Where the dew falls down and washes all the lies away. God calls me here, to the Pacific Northwest, and I follow. He calls me to what He has always intended for me and I step into that. I follow the sound of His voice into the terrifying, exhilarating wilderness, holding Him to the challenge that if He is who He says He is, I come out on the other side as the woman He made me. The brave, artist, writer, lover, sister, friend He called me to be.

I am exhilarated. I am terrified. I am here. And I am budding.

Surrounded as we are by trees in Seattle, I can’t help but compare it to the wilderness. This journey is full of unpredictable woods. I have wandered and fought, struggled and surrendered, seethed and succumbed. Gathered strength, like berries, as we ventured to yet another fork in the road. Still, there has been rest beside streams. Unexplained moments of wonder. My attempt to convey the entire experience seems futile; as I look for the words, I can’t find them in prose. I find the moment better expressed with a bit of poetry, which spilled out of me during class recently…

Wild. Er. Ness.

I have taken
A hundred thousand steps
You smile at me
And ask me to take
A hundred thousand more.

What has it meant,
To carry me in this skin?

Through deserts
And fires
And floods
And plains

I have followed you.

Only to find myself
Feet dampened by streams of water

Now standing at the roots of this…

Where ancestors
Have walked before.

Which way do I go for the shrubs?
Which route shall I weave, through the vines and moss?

Heart pounding,
I follow the bouquet of your voice into the thickening flora.

Too far in to retreat, to find my way back
And yet, there is a mountain ahead.

I have taken a hundred thousand steps.

You ask me to take a hundred thousand more.

Who would have thought that winding around the roots, moss, and vines, where the darkness intermingled with the light, there would be new growth?

Just when I thought I could take the mystery no more, there she was.