Nothing Left to Do





Toward the end of August I begin to dream about fall, how
this place will empty of people, the air will get cold and
leaves begin to turn. Everything will quiet down, everything
will become a skeleton of its summer self. Toward

the end of August I get nostalgic for what’s to come, for
that quiet time, time alone, peace and stillness, calm, all
those things the summer doesn’t have. The woodshed is
already full, the kindling’s in, the last of the garden soon

will be harvested, and then there will be nothing left to do
but watch fall play itself out, the earth freeze, winter come.
~David Budbill “Toward the End of August” from Tumbling Toward the End.






I dream now of fall, wanting this stubborn summer to flame out, to leave its bare bones behind.  The last few weeks have been particularly cruel with wildfires, hurricanes, drought, sweltering heat, and flooding rains.  As if nature is not damaging enough, humanity continues to threaten humanity with local and global violence and threats of annihilation, while hundreds of thousands of refugees migrate from one poor country into even poorer countries in search of some semblance of hope and security for a safe future.

Anxiety and despair seem appropriate responses in the face of so much tragedy – they take root like weeds in a garden patch– overwhelming, crowding out and impairing all that is fruitful.  The result is nothing of value grows–only unchecked proliferation of more weeds. My worry and anguish help no one and changes nothing, serving only to hinder me from being fruitful.

It shouldn’t take bad news and disaster to remind me of what I already know:
I am not God and never will be.  He tends the garden and He pulls the weeds when the time is right.

His harvest is at hand.  Either I’m fruit or weed.

Acknowledging this is everything.  There is nothing left to do but watch as it plays itself out.






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4 thoughts on “Nothing Left to Do

  1. Yes. I have felt all of this too, Emily.
    And yet … in some way, everything is still left to do that ever mattered: noticing the presence of God in our lives; “reading the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon” (Ikkyu); seeing who and what is in front of us and enjoying these gifts; loving the next person who comes along; keeping the Garden of creation.


  2. “His harvest is at hand….There is nothing left to do but watch as it plays itself out.”

    Yes, this is our reality. There will be an end to it all – eventually. And then will come God’s promised judgment and ‘a new heaven and a new earth.’ But in the painful, discouraging hope-defying interim it is the waiting, watching, seeing in horrifying detail the minute-to-minute genocide, monumental human suffering, environmental carnage invade our sensibilities as it is played out in heartbreaking detail via our media.

    In the meantime, as you suggest, we must decide: are we fruit or are we weed?
    Thank you, Emily, for your wisdom, your insights, that bolster us each day as we struggle on our daily journey.


  3. I too get terribly nostalgic for Fall and that 1st whiff of winter. As I recall though… the nostalgia wears off quickly when I start having to put snow chains on the tires to get into town. 🙂 Still there is a beauty in Fall… when all the world comes full circle… and the golden leaves fade to dust. Alas, tis a whispering reminder, that as all things change… so must we.


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