Light splashed this morning on the shell-pink anemones swaying on their tall stems; down blue-spiked veronica light flowed in rivulets over the humps of the honeybees; this morning I saw light kiss the silk of the roses in their second flowering, my late bloomers flushed with their brandy. A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house, so I have trudged downstairs to my cell, so I am sitting in semi-dark hunched over my desk with nothing for a view to tempt me but a bloated compost heap, steamy old stinkpile, under my window; and I pick my notebook up and I start to read aloud the still-wet words I scribbled on the blotted page: “Light splashed . . .”
This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying – the delicate seed globe must break up now – it gives and gives till it has nothing left. The hour of this new dying is clearly defined to the dandelion globe; it is marked by detachment. There is no sense of wrenching; it stands ready, holding up its little life, no knowing when or where or how the wind that bloweth where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given; a breath does the rest… ~Lilias Trotter from “The Dandelion”
The farm is covered with them now; momentary perfection standing ready to break apart and fly whether jostled by human or animal, breeze or breath.
The sacrifice of one becomes a gift of millions. A breath started it all and ends it all.
How can it be when nothing is left, everything is gained?
“That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing… obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”
~Wallace Stegner in Angle of Repose
How is it the same day can be wistful and yet jubilant? More than New Year’s Day, the beginning of autumn represents so many turned over “leafs”. We are literally reminded of this whenever we look at the trees and how their leaves are turning and letting go, making joy as they make way, the slate wiped clean and ready to be scribbled on once again.
Tomorrow the school where I’ve worked for nearly a quarter century welcomes back 15,000 students to its halls and classrooms. We see or are contacted by 2% of those students every day about their health concerns and symptoms. I am struck anew every autumn when each adult comes to the university with that clean slate, hoping to start fresh, leaving behind what has not worked well for them in the past. These are patients who are open to change because they are dedicating themselves to self-transformation through knowledge and discipline.
It is a true privilege, as a college health doc, to participate in our students’ transition to become autonomous critical thinkers who strive to better the world as compassionate global citizens. Their rich colors deepen once they let go to fly wherever the wind may take them.
We who remain rooted in place celebrate each new beginning, knowing we nurture the coming transformation.