Let us step outside for a moment As the sun breaks through clouds And shines on wet new fallen snow, And breathe the new air. So much has died that had to die this year.
Let us step outside for a moment. It is all there Only we have been slow to arrive At a way of seeing it. Unless the gentle inherit the earth There will be no earth. ~May Sarton from “New Year Poem”
Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.
I don’t pay close enough attention to the meaning of my leaking eyes when I’m looking for kleenex to stem the flow. During the holidays it seems I have more than ample opportunity to find out from my tears the secret of who I am, where I have come from and where I am to be next, so I keep my pockets loaded with kleenex.
It mostly has to do with welcoming family members back home for the holidays to become a full out noisy messy chaotic household again, with puzzles and games and music and laughter and laundry and meal preparation. It is about singing grace together before a meal and choking on precious words of gratitude. It certainly has to do with bidding farewell as we did yet again this morning, gathering them in for that final hug and then that letting-go part.
We urge and encourage them to go where their hearts are telling them they are needed and called to be, even thousands of miles away from their one-time home on the farm.
I too was let go once and though I would try to look back, too often in tears, I learned to set my face toward the future. It led me here, to this marriage, this family, this farm, this work, our church, to more tears, to more letting go, as it will continue if granted the years to weep again and again with gusto and grace.
This is where I will go next: to love so much and so deeply that letting go is so hard that tears are no longer unexpected or a mystery to me or my children. They release a fullness that can no longer be contained: God’s still small voice spills down my cheeks drop by drop like wax from a burning candle.
…still it’s not death that spends So tenderly this treasure To leaf-rich golden winds, But life in lavish measure.
No, it’s not death this year Since then and all the pain. It’s life we harvest here (Sun on the crimson vine). The garden speaks your name. We drink your joys like wine. ~May Sarton, from “The First Autumn”
Is there something finished? And some new beginning on the way?
I cried over beautiful things, knowing no beautiful thing lasts… ~Carl Sandburg, from “Falltime” and “Autumn Movement”
I praise the fall:
It is the human season. On this sterile air Do words outcarry breath: the sound goes on and on. I hear a dead man’s cry from autumn long since gone.
I cry to you beyond upon this bitter air. ~Archiblad MacLeish from “Immortal Autumn”
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ~May Sarton
During the past two weeks in Great Britain, Dan and I have slowed down from our usual busy routine to simply experience a different part of the world and meet new people who have been astonishingly warm and welcoming.
We are also very aware this vacation is about to end next week.
Yesterday we spent over an hour driving lost downtown in the city of Edinburgh, thwarted by torn up closed off streets under construction and a GPS that wanted to send us through barriers to get to our destination. It was a jarring jerk back to the hubbub of the urban life after days of wandering peaceably in the countryside. It took all our patience to not get frustrated at what was beyond our control.
When we finally got settled last night, we went for a long walk on the city streets and found grace in little patches of garden along the way. The honeysuckle could be smelled before it was seen, its perfume wafting out over the sidewalk to remind busy and distracted passersby there is good reason to slow down and breathe.
Today we head out to experience this city and its history before returning to the countryside and heading home to our routine.
The garden will be the first place I’ll be, priorities adjusted and my life changed.