Monday, October 3, 2011

OMG, It's October

Somehow, a sometimes-sultry September has slithered out the door and October has slipped in, bringing delightfully cooler temperatures, blue skies, chill breezes, and the tinge of color on the tips of trees, putting me in the mood for the tasks of making soup and applesauce and, perhaps, baking an apple pie. Isn't it strange how certain foods seem to go with certain seasons? How the palate just seems to yearn for a specific taste when the air cools and the nights lengthen? My heart leans toward "comfort foods" at this time of year...foods like baked or mashed white potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, meatloaf, liver with onions, oven-roasted veggies, and chili, leaving behind the lighter fare of summer, as "real" tomatoes and peaches disappear from the farmers' market, to be replaced by root vegetables and loads of apples.

In many ways, Autumn is my favorite season, though it brings with it a certain melancholy, the fragrant, flagrant beauty of summer being gradually replaced by the brief flare of fall color which will, in turn, be all-too-quickly replaced by the barren beauty of winter, all a reminder of both the fragility of life and its cyclical nature.

Cooler, darker mornings...
sunlight filtered now
through boughs of ever-changing
color...mums & asters nod
their heads of gold & mauve,
rust & crimson, as summer's
flowers fall on bended knee,
their strength & beauty
    nearly spent.

The garden's bounty
changes, too, as succulent
tomatoes give way to squash &
cabbage, pumpkin &
rutabaga, while the heady
fragrance of fresh apples
becoming applesauce fills
   the kitchen air.

The sun daily bids
an earlier good-by,
and occasionally overhead
come calls of goose
formations heading south.
Butterflies are gone, it seems,
and buzzing bees...falling
leaves dot the lawn and
earth's own pace begins
to slow as, all around,
nature begins to prepare
for winter's rest & restoration.
    It is blessed autumn.

October also brings, for me, some difficult remembrances, though I am finding them less and less so as the years pass. In fact, I did not remember yesterday's significance until I crawled into bed last evening, at the end of a wonderful day...a day gifted with glorious cloud formations and the sighting of a lovely doe near the road as I drove to my lovely little congregation outside Lexington, both glories causing me to be breathing thanks as I drove into the gravel parking lot at the church.

Then there was the response of the congregation to my sermon, with more than half of the "crowd" of twelve commenting on it and thanking me for my words. Now, six comments might not seem like many to those whose congregations number in the hundreds, but in the intimacy of preaching to small numbers in a small sanctuary, the preacher is engaged, personally engaged and involved in a way quite different from preaching before a crowd. I can see every face, gauge every reaction, measure every response, which makes this a challenging task indeed. My prayer prior to preaching is that one heart might be touched...and the response was an overwhelming gift. And so, I exited the parking lot again giving thanks.

The day was quiet, restful, filled with sabbath peace...a few e-mails received and sent as connections with those far away was strengthened...a last good-by to Andy Rooney on "Sixty Minutes", and then a bit of reading prior to lights out. And as I settled into the pillow to review my day, there it was- the awareness that it was October 2nd...the day my first husband, Carl, had died of leukemia in 1975, the day of my surgery for breast cancer in 1984...both life-changing events in many ways. But the usual visceral reaction of the past was gone and instead, all I felt was incredible gratitude for being here, for the wonders and beauty of the day as it passed, and for the awareness that, as difficult as both events had been at the time, both had also been the source of considerable learning and growth- painful, to be sure- but growth nevertheless, only visible after the passing of years, only visible to me, I am sure.

And now, all these years later, I could lie in my bed in the welcoming darkness with strains of classical music coming from the clock radio on the nightstand and offer thanks...for my life, for the day, for the holiness of each moment. I AM HERE, NOW...thanks be to God! May your day today be filled with such precious moments and blessed with the awareness to hold and cherish them. May you be filled with all of the courage and strength and hope you need this day, and may you know that you are loved. love, linda

from whence did it come,
this thing growing inside
my breast? alien...                                                                                                                                                            
                  the enemy…
yet here it is,
within this very body
I call home…
making itself ‘at home’,
          a threat to my tranquility
                           my hope
                           my very life!
first come the tears,
                the disbelief…
                the sense of helplessness & grief…
but nipping at their heels comes
anger, accompanied by fierce determination-
            “Out, out damned spot!
                           damned misplaced growth!
              You are not welcome here!
              Whatever hospitality you found
                   within my body, spirit, mind
                   which issued invitation is
                   now withdrawn!
               My goal is LIFE!
                                      and I will survive!

We’re given second chances every day of our life.
We don’t usually take them, but they’re there for the taking.
-Andrew M. Greeley

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