This morning our walk was different. The air was cool and the wind was gusty sending leaves changing colors whirling to the ground. This is a season of change. The inbetween-ness of summer and fall. The new routines and new schedules. The new unexpectedness of whether the morning will feel like hot and humid summer or just a little chilly.
The light is different too. It’s not the morning light of summer that promises sunburns and sweat beading down your back. It’s softer, warmer, and more welcoming. Easing into the day rather than starting the day bright and brilliant.
As we were walking on our Saturday path that leads us to a trail, the four-year-old looked at me and asked, “Mama, can we sit on that bench awhile?” I smiled. Maybe he too was noticing how things were changing. Maybe he too wanted to bask a little longer.
“Let’s do it!”
We watched the leaves whirling and twirling and laughed as hair got blown in our eyes and then back out just as quickly. We talked about the new books we had found at the Little Free Libraries along our paths. We talked about how we might have to get some of our long-sleeved clothes out. We waved at walkers and laughed at dogs chasing squirrels.
There was nothing particularly significant about our conversation except that there was time for our conversation. There was time to sit on the bench and notice and wonder. There was time to be together.
This gift of time is changing us, inviting us to slower pace, beckoning us to reconnect to each other and the world around us.
This morning as we started out for our walk, we came across this in the bed beside our house. I had seen the hopeful signs that we might get just one more bloom before the summer ended and overnight, out it bloomed!
By the time we returned from our walk, the bloom looked just a little bit different. Can you see it? The opening of the center?
Isn’t it interesting how a little morning light can open us to the new possibilities and to receiving warmth and energy for the day? Isn’t it interesting how stopping and looking and practicing that each morning can remind us that each day is a new day?
These are disciples and practices that center and ground us reminding us that we are not alone and that we are connected to the daylilies and to the world around us. Thanks be to God for little whispers of the Divine all around us.
Today, it’s the clouds
floating to me
the possibility –
that taking sheltering
letting the wind and rain
refresh the earth
might just be
and most important work.
Today it’s the colors,
to see clearly.
The brilliant blue of the sky
against the hunter green of the pines –
The unexpected fuchsia of the crepe myrtle
climbing out of the storm drain –
The glistening silver of morning dew
about to evaporate in the blazing summer sun –
The fiery red of the passing cardinal
flying by soft wisps of white clouds –
And a tow-headed toddler
taking it all in.
Today it’s the birds
singing to me.
Reminding me –
to dive into the unknown
to ride the wind of a new day
to sing loud and strong
to call when there’s food
to chase off predators together
to build nests out of unlikely finds
And most importantly,
to spread wide and be free.
Chubby hands reaching out to touch
the tall grass,
Curious feet creating ripples
in the still waters.
We basked in the
of the morning light.
And then walked on.
As I was cleaning one of my bookshelves, a notecard fell off the bookshelf. It was from a time when I would write quotations on notecards from books I had read to remind myself of the way those words had spoken to me. This one was from Thoreau’s On Walden:
The surface of the earth is soft and impressionable by the feet of [humanity]; and so with the paths the mind travels. How worn and dusty then the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity.
As the reality that our world is changing all around us and we will not be returning to the “normal” we used to know, I see this more and more. People are digging in their heels white-knuckled from holding onto what they used to know with a fierceness that threatens violence towards those who would remind them of the changes that are happening.
What if instead, we taught our minds not to cling to tradition and conformity, but instead to look down at the impression we are making on the earth and indeed on the world and wonder if that’s the impression we want to leave behind? What if we taught ourselves wonder and awe at each new day?
I want my steps to tread lightly, disappearing as the wind and rain nourishes the earth. I don’t want my steps to be preserved in concrete reminding the world that it was more important that I walk the way I always had rather than step around the wet concrete with awareness and intentionality to reroute my steps.
Perhaps you would say there is no real significance to the notecard “appearing” at this point in time and space and it’s more a testament to my bookshelf being too full. Perhaps you are right, but for me this is the whisper of the Divine nudging me to remember to tread lightly, to notice everything around me, and to step intentionally into this day.
When case numbers in SC began to rise, I realized it was going to become more and more difficult to find light and hope. The climbing death rate, the uncertainty about the fall, and the growing unease among people were all causes to be on alert constantly. South Carolina now has higher case numbers than any other country in the world. South Carolina ranks number three on case numbers per capita. It feels as if the virus is closing in our state.
I know some people have taken the approach that “it isn’t that big of a deal” or that “we are all going to get it,” but after reading some of the potential long-term effects this virus could have on the neurological system especially, I simply can’t come to those conclusions.
As the days seem to drift into a mundane routine, I needed a reminder that there was light all around. I needed a reminder that even if we are walking and biking the same paths over and over again there something new to notice. I needed the reminder that the Divine was among us.
Even as I asked for my eyes to be opened, I began to see morning light all around. I began to notice the subtle ways flowers bloomed over the course of a week, opening a little more each day. I began to notice the possibility that our morning walks and bike rides just might instill in our four-year-old and seventeen-month-old the desire to escape to nature when things seemed chaotic or scary. I began to notice that everything looks just a little bit more magical and mysterious in the morning light.
And I began to awake each day with open eyes and open hearts to the promise:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Spring has always been full of new smells. Flowers blooming. Trees budding. And those wonderful evenings after the rain comes through.
On our daily walks, one of the questions our four-year-old almost always asks is “What’s that smell?” Sometimes I know the answer, especially if it’s a Bradford Pear tree, but many times I don’t. So I ask him back, what do you think? If it’s an unpleasant smell he is always convinced it’s a skunk and hopes he will see. If it’s a pleasant smell his answers range from honeysuckle to rose bush to tulips.
Smells trigger our memories of summer camp and long afternoons in the pool or at the lake. Smells remind us that we are connected to a deeper earthiness. Smells warn us of danger as well. Without smell, we can’t taste our food.
Stop and smell the flowers is a phrase used to remind us to slow down enough to notice your surroundings. But really stop and smell the flowers and when you do you will find your body and soul reunited in memories and hope for this the new life we are creating.