Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn Affirmation

The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:15,16

If summer is the season of action, then fall is the season of reflection. A sense of melancholy settles in my spirit. Yet the last Saturday in October glows with promise and beckons me to my front porch. Supper bakes in the oven and a salad waits in the fridge. I have planned ahead to capture this afternoon all to myself, understanding that I require soaking in the last burst of autumn. This is a journey I must travel, complete with deep rumination, before I release the season and face winter’s challenges.
Normally I would sit on the back porch of our rural home and observe the White River and Fletcher’s Mountain. Often the river soothes my subconscious and provides transition and closure to another phase of my life. Then why today is the sunshine of the front yard more enticing than the river side? Perhaps because the maples glimmer with transparent light unlike their shaded brethren on the mountainside. The hilltop hardwoods haven’t yet begun their fall cycle; but the four maples on this side of the house preen in their reddish jewels, not quite ready for full cocktail dress. Like a young woman requiring help for the formal dance, they demand my full attention.
I loll in the small rattan seat with my feet propped on a straight chair and alternately read my current choice of fiction then gaze into the forest across our country road. Neighbors call to one another on the mountainside. Then silence seeks dominion and I begin to settle. For a few seconds, I am captivated by the wood’s hush soon disturbed by the raucous calls of angry crows. Perhaps I have interrupted their train of thought. Their bickering and irritation, directed at a small hawk whose mother has left the nest, keep me from simple mental vegetation.
Forced to return to my deepest thought processes, I muddle on the latest question in my world: have I accomplished enough service in my life? I will turn sixty in April. If sixty is the new fifty, as the Baby Boomer literature tells my generation, will I somehow re-capture the affirmation I felt at that age when only one year from retirement? Or will I struggle inside the dreary pit of fifty-one where I lost my nineteen-year-old child to a drunk driver? I have survived both the pre and post of fifty. I have completed a sparkling career, built a successful resort business, been published several times, learned to fly fish, contributed much to my church, been a faithful friend to several and a loving wife to only one.
Yet I contemplate the last third of my life and wonder whether those accomplishments are enough. Is this season of my existence like the October of my youth where the holidays were anticipated with many secrets and much yearning, or simply a slide into bleak winter and too many days spent shut up in the house? I examine my list of incompletes: finish writing the great American novel, master the perfect tight loops of my fly rod, laugh more, encourage enough people with kind words and support along the way. Some of those accomplishments can be evaluated and measured. Yet others may become part of the great immeasurable: a never ending parade of unfulfilled prayers and people resistant to change and help.
I review a mental list of friends whom I could call to drag me from my gloomy reverie and discard the idea, choosing instead to navel gaze then study the trees again. They hold the key to my dilemma if I will accept the lessons they teach. They have escaped the normal wind and rains thus far. Their leaves cling tightly to their branches, knowing their time will soon come to dance. They prevail impervious, not fearing the loss of leaf security or dignity. They enjoy their protection and success for a short while, discarding them to face the next season unafraid, secure that spring will bring rejuvenation.
A small whirling insect captures my attention. Aroused from my sun drenched laziness, I watch as it lands on the porch rail. Slightly larger than a ladybug with a thin body, the beetle’s green back holds distinct black marks which lend a checkerboard image to his color. He pauses to touch each foot to his oversized antennae, unconcerned about the female giant who leans closer for a look. After his brief rest and polishing, he departs---his green wings a tiny flare of hope before twilight arrives. I soon lose sight of him in the bright sunlight. Does he provide a teachable moment?
I survey a piece of spider web floating across the space between the trees. This is how spiders travel. Does the spider fear the distance from one tree before it can arrive at the protection of the next one? I marvel at his faith to let go without positive assurance of a secure landing; but sense that his survival lies in the breathless courage to try. There is a connection here among the creatures of the lawn and backdrop, if I just open my mind. Receiving the gift of the association developed by the variety of God’s resources promises to enhance my life as they have blessed this special October day.
Consider the lilies how they grow: They toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

As the oven timer dings, I breathe in the victory of this humble yet glorious landscape and realize that I have much to offer this world with the last third of my life. Like the trees, I will prevail without trappings and protection. Like the beetle I will spin with joy. Like the spider I will survive the journey. Copyright 2007

Writer Gal