The wind picks up a little. The birds stop singing so loudly, the squirrels get serious about finding and hiding their winter food, no longer running and playing in the trees. The bugs, who have been singing all day, grow quieter and finally become silent in the chill of the evening. There’s still a flurry of activity in the day, but at night stillness senses an opening and begins to settle in.
Mystery is returning to the world, and all of creation is preparing for Her unfolding.
Now, while the trees are flaming into beautiful color, while the clear light is still mellowed by green grass and thick clouds, I put on my sweatshirt and move around outside. I make sure that the grass is cut one last time, and the gardening tools are all cleaned and put away. There are leaves to rake and gutters to clean. There are storm doors to change. Lisa will bring in the house plants; I’ll cover the patio furniture.
Autumn has come and I’ve got to make sure the work gets done.
And here’s what happens. I go right from the stacked up events and tasks of summer to the blur of the holiday season. Sometime in January I fall from the sky in the middle of winter, exhausted, wondering what just happened. That’s when I realize, once again, I all but missed the holy time when things are gloriously passing away.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with being intentional in my life. I get hypnotized by the thousand things constantly clamoring for my attention. Emails, appointments, work that just won’t quit, texts, dinner to be made, dogs to be walked, phone calls I have to take.
In the back of my mind I hear Her whisper, asking me to stop, asking me to notice, asking me to turn my attention away from devices and expectations, to turn instead to Her, enter into Her mystery, and move toward Her stillness with the rest of creation. Yes, I hear Her, but I swear, I am wrapped up so tightly in “doing” that it feels as though my entire world would collapse if I were to let go of the thousand tasks I am juggling.
How ironic it is that the thought of moving toward Her feels like walking away from everything.
In any other relationship my inattention and infidelity would be cause for anger and accusations. But She just patiently continues to whisper. “Here I am, here you are, here.”
Fall reminds me that I do not determine the seasons. I don’t decide on the light and the darkness. I only determine the manner of my preparation and the attitude of my expectation.
So much of this must be naked trust, walking away from the stack of tasks, walking into the stillness. This is not a responsible choice. This is not a logical choice. This is not the right choice. If we are to belong to Her, this is not a choice at all.
So now I share with you my Autumn promise, my prayer.
Each day I will drop my head and open my arms, freeing my heart to Her, knowing that She creates the same beauty and wonder through my being as She does in the life surrounding me.
I will harvest the ripe fruit I have neglected on the vine.
I will act as if the thousand tasks can wait, until I know that they can.
I will stop, and notice Her startling beauty everywhere.
I will prepare myself. And this year I will be present to welcome Her stillness and mystery.