To Go With the Drift of Things

Out through the fields and the woods
   And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
   And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
   And lo, it is ended.

 
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
   Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
   And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
   When others are sleeping.

 
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
   No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
   The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
   But the feet question ‘Whither?’

 
Ah, when to the heart of man
   Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
   To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
   Of a love or a season?

~Robert Frost “Reluctance”


 As I kick through piles of fallen leaves in the barnyard, I realize how close I am to becoming one of them. Within my own seasons, I have flourished and bloomed and fruited, but, with aging, am now reminded of my fading, withering and eventual letting go. I find I’m not nearly so bold anymore, instead trembling nervously when harsh winds blow me about.

I have come to question the stability of the stems, branches, trunk and roots I’ve always depended upon. Will they continue to nourish and sustain me?

Everything feels transitory — especially me.

When these thoughts overwhelm, I tend to hang on tighter rather than simply giving up and letting go. My feet stumble when I try to do the same tasks I did so smoothly years ago. I am easily torn, broken and full of holes. No graceful bow from me; I’m stubbornly wanting things to stay the same, reluctant for a transition to something different.

My only solace is that the heart of man — indeed my own holey heart — is transient compared to the holy Heart of God. I am sustained by His steady Pulse, His ubiquitous Circulation, His impeccable Rhythm of Life and Death.

In that I trust. In that I come to abandon my stubborn reluctance.

Yielding Spring With Grace

Rhodendron forest Rowallen Gardens, County Down, Ireland
Rhodendron forest Rowallen Gardens, County Down, Ireland

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
~Robert Frost from “Reluctance”

It is, for me, a reluctant solstice.  I am unready to relinquish this hard-won daylight back to the night.   Here is Ireland I was amazed to see light on the horizon as early as 3:30 AM and it is still quite light out at 10:45 PM or later, almost two more hours of daylight here than at home.   The farmers are making use of this extra time; the tractors are busy until dark bringing in silage and round bales all around us.  At home the grass still is standing with almost an inch of rain yesterday.  No hay yet; it is waiting for us to fly home.

Northern Ireland is full of rhododendron forests,  centuries-old trees standing 20-30 feet high still blooming a full month after ours at home had finished.  A late spring reluctantly is yielding to summer as the delicate blooms wither to brown and fall to the ground, looking very much like autumn leaves.

I bow to this transition and accept the new season with grace, with glad sadness and sad gladness.   I will carry this extra light from Ireland home in my words, my pictures and my memories, to brighten my heart on a winters’ night.

A hillside of rhododendron in the Mourne Mountains, County Down, Ireland
A hillside of rhododendron in the Mourne Mountains, County Down, Ireland

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