Twirling leaves of burnt gold, amber, and bright yellow fly across the view from my sunroom window. Our silver maple, a magnificent tree, is still decked with leaves (some lime green, many a shiny yellow) and is the center point of my view. It hugs our driveway and canopies our southern exposure. I adore the shape of its trunk; its quick, thick branches; and the gnarly, humpy, spreading of its root feet. The rain-darkened bark is backed by blazing yellow orange leaves of a hickory tree neighbor. What a sight!
I love the rain, in the fall, with the colors and the bark. Wind-whipped leaves - swirling, floating, flying. My spirits soar as every peek from any window, each moment gazing from the porches, all the swishing through mounds of brightness bring profound thankfulness. Middle age does not diminish the wonder or the joy.
Today, fingers of a winter storm, dumping heavy snows north and west, bring us more rain (Yippee!) with a little thunder, a tad of lightning, and intermittent high winds. Autumn storms differ from spring storms. These rains help lay our gardens to rest. They calm and nourish the soil. I don’t think of renewal or sprouting or vigorousness. Summer’s waning eased my mind into thoughts of rest and quiet and latent energy. This rain, these storms, are icing on my ‘love of autumn’ cake.
Our senses can reel and our hearts can quicken from the beauty that surrounds us. Thoughts and emotions triggered by such sights are hard to express. With words, anyway. Sometimes. We strive to capture them, on film and in memory. Minutes tick by as our eyes drink it all in. Light waves make their way to our brains and travel along sensory and neural pathways, where chemicals are released that turn into emotions that cause us to say, “Wow!” And, “Thank you.” And, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” (And, “I really want to share this with someone.”)
So, sing, people, sing! Smile and laugh and wonder as you walk or drive or stand perfectly still. Help others to know, show others, the magnificence in a simple red leaf. Or in the darkness of tree bark, stained with cool rain, set against the deep and ravishing colors of fall.
This year, even in its infancy, has already been a full one.
(Which raises contemplations on life in motion. Not busyness, really; fullness.)
My husband, our sons, a daughter-in-law, my brother, and other extended family have first-of-the-year, wintertime birthdays; one son and daughter-in-law have a wedding anniversary. I tutor, sing with the local chorale (we’re now rehearsing for our May performance), worship, engage in bible study, write, enjoy various hobbies, spend time with family and friends, and host a weekly conversation/study night. Throughout the week there is still time for research, contemplation, movie watching with GB, dreaming, and lengthy phone conversations with a far-from-us son and a bestest friend.
It is a blessing to be home – I love creating, gardening, cooking, family time, and exploring my new cheese making passion. Occasional happy events and spontaneous activities help fill the days.
On top of all this wonderfulness, I have several goals this year – some projects started, others still in the paper planning stage. One or two of them (like reading the complete works of Frederick Douglass) may necessitate hunter-gatherer skills. Some are lone pursuits, some require (and I desire) my handyman husband, and others are accompanied by family.
And, now, hey-ay, it’s Spring already!
Where has the time gone? Flown and flying by. Gardens to plant and resuscitate, yards to mow, pictures to take. Walks and trips and foraging. Busy, you say? A full plate? Maybe.
So, in March a niece was wed. We attended a lovely lakeside celebration complete with Texas barbecue. Fun and family.
So, in two weeks another niece will marry. I’m thrilled, we’re thrilled, to participate in the preparation and to be present for the ceremony. Love and honor.
So, the day after the wedding I board an early flight for a highly anticipated visit with the far-from-us son, his lovely wife, and our excellent grandson! I get to hear his sweet voice in person and share his floor space for loads of toddler fun. Relationships.
So, in May we honor family – two university graduates and a fifty-seven year marriage. Celebrations.
So, in June we welcome our second grandchild – another fine boy. We’ll travel to welcome him, love on him; and I’m blessed to be able to stay for an extended period. (An almost-two-year old and his newborn brother – can life be any finer?) Quality time.
The mid-year calendar, even now, is penciled in and filling quickly. Really, through early autumn. Another trip for a weeklong stay with good friends, seeing a nephew off to graduate school, more birthdays, more anniversaries, family reunions. Memories.
So (again), how is it that I sometimes feel like a time-waster? By some opinions, sitting and thinking, sitting and watching a show, sitting at the computer, or sitting and reading are not productive. No physical activity going on, you see. Brain cells firing - usually. Muscles relaxing - yes. Brain fog clearing - possibly.
Maybe I’m programmed, have been programmed, to think of all things restful or rejuvenating as time ill-spent. No one can see or measure my daily productivity (we’re assuming, here, that there is some). No one knows what I’ve been thinking or planning or creating. You don’t know. Do you?
Can our accomplishments be accurately measured by another? They are, sometimes. Measured. By family, friends, watchers, bystanders.
Do the hours of each of our days warrant scrutiny or evaluation?
I think, yes.
What we do, how we do it, how we spend our time – these are, and should be, examined and accounted for. But, only by our own, finely-tuned parameters. (Which, for me, includes God’s standards.)
How is my down time profitable? It enables me to start that next project, strengthens me to pursue a goal, or prepares me for service to others. Rest, thought-gathering, soul-searching.
To what benefit are hobbies and the like? They expand our creativity, fulfill a need and desire for recreation, sharpen our senses, and, often, fine-tune our physical selves.
Even on an elementary level –
reading: increases our vocabulary, educates us, thrills
study and research: keeps us updated on world events
or pertinent topics
recreation: builds healthy minds and bodies
conversation and people-time: provides emotional
support, negates self-centeredness, and equips us for
Yes, most of our lives are filled and full to the brim. Can some of our pursuits or time-users be pared down? Probably. That is why evaluation of our days is profitable. It’s why we should examine ourselves and our world. More time for others, more room for growth, more vision for beauty.
“Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.” —Frederick Douglass, Autobiographies
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. –Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
What a grand adventure!
I love teaching; I love conversation, writing, artistic expression.
I love our sons - as babies, as boys at home, in their adulthood.
I love my husband, my parents…all the family.
I love our grandson and the one yet-to-be-born.
I love God.
How wonderful and exciting it is, what a blessing, to have had all this (to have all this) and still find time and resources to add fulfillment upon fulfillment.
I love gardening, herbs, and baking.
I love reading, hiking, glass, screened porches, and songbirds at feeders.
Last night’s sunset.
: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
: to hold dear : cherish
: to thrive in
Synonyms: appreciate, cherish, prize, treasure, value, set store by
: the act or process of fulfilling
Synonyms: accomplishment, achievement, discharge, enactment, execution
I find, more and more, that expressing myself through the written word is valuable. I really love it. Just like baking a lemon-blueberry cake with lemon, goat cheese icing for a niece’s wedding party or gathering poesies of peppermint for drying in the shed. Acknowledging that sunset, filling those bird feeders, enjoying that sink full of hot, sudsy water.
Whom do you love and who brings you love? What do you do that you love? How do you find-or where do you find-fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction? Even the simple, maybe the unexceptional; but always close at hand.
Enjoy this day. Take notice, lift your head, admire, create, and be thankful.
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Isn’t it funny (funny or weird) how time flies with living? With fun, full days. Life worth living and living well. So it is and has been for me.
Let’s see…a new daughter-in-law, one son and wife moving close, a light-of-our-lives grandson (with another on the way!), nieces and nephews in college and then graduated, another son becoming a PhD next month. Marriages, births, renewals, and joys as a companion bookend with deaths, partings, and losses. Life and love - joy and sorrow. Photographs and keepsakes which fill me (and us) with stories and memories.
Here we are again and I have so much to say and to share. The writing and cataloging and research and word-capturing have continued, on and on, so there is no shortage of fodder for this journalistic beast.
Comment, always comment; I love good conversation! Good, though, is the operative word. Please keep your comments, insights, and questions free of insult, arrogance, or Bad language (no curses, vulgarities, or ridiculousness). I look forward to hearing from you!
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