In the last few weeks leading up to the change of clocks, I would go out to my lanai and claim my God-time. One day I realized, that even though I had gone out at the same time as usual – about seven o’clock – the morning light had changed. In fact it was not fully light but rather that eerie time of in between when the sun has not quite risen but there is a pallor about the sky.
That was the first time I allowed myself to even consider that summer was ending and autumn was pushing through the door. I sat and watched, and listened. There was absolute silence. Normally as I go out there in the morning, squirrels are rustling through the trees and the birds are beginning to awaken with soft twitters and small trills. But on this morning I noticed the total quiet.
Although I accept the changing of the seasons, after all there’s very little that I can do to stop them changing, I do not like it. In sixty six years, however, I have learned that lesson. I think much of my non-acceptance stems from my British upbringing. In England, once whatever precious little summer that we got was over, then we were always assured of grey cold autumn coming in, followed by an even greyer and colder winter. Grey dooms my heart and soul. I get de-pressed and sad, and I’m just not my usual bright sunny self.
So even though I live in Florida now and the summer blurs into autumn, and winter usually is not so cold (let’s forget about last winter,shall we!!!) and definitely not so grey, I still have an imbedded expectation around this particular change of season, that the grey is about to descend upon me. I am grateful to be living here because I soon realize that autumn-into-winter is not synonymous with grey and cold. In fact, in the almost seven years that I have been here, I remember sunbathing frequently in the “winter” months and reveling in the fact.
So, as I was saying, in these past few weeks I have watched the morning light grow dimmer each day, even though I have gone out there at about the same time. Then, suddenly, about ten days ago I realized that there was barely a glimmer of light. I sat there and had to squint my eyes to make out shapes and forms in the un-light. But then I had the unexpected pleasure of watching the dawn light creep across the sky and in those pre-sunrise moments I began to make out smaller shapes and forms, and the details of leaves, flowers, trees, gazebo, slowly filled themselves in.
Then, in one glorious instant, a shaft of bright light came across the side garden fence and illuminated a slice of the picture in front of me. The trunk of a tree, a few branches, a small angle of the top of the gazebo, all became as clear as if in a naif painting. Moment by moment, my back yard and the woods beyond were suddenly lit up like the opening scene in a live theater. Almost immediately the rustling, the soft twitters, and the small chirps began until there was a full-throated burst of bird song.
Thank you God for the joy and the beauty of your creation. No matter what the season, there is always something wonderful, something awesome, to see and marvel over. I hope I always keep my open eyes and my open heart to appreciate the glory that is our world.
The other day I was reading a small reflection about how we are all part of the tapestry of life. The reflection said that we are all unique threads in the great tapestry of life, each with our own subtle texture and color. It lead to to think about my own life and to see how that is a unique tapestry of its own. The events that have taken place, the people that have crossed my path, and my response or reaction to both of these, have all contributed to the rich cloth that has been woven.
I also think of my life as representative of the seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Some of the threads are black and grey and dark brown and these form the winter scenes. Others are bright yellow and light green and various hews of light blue creating renewal of life spring scenes. Bright gold, vivid red and brilliant greens and blues form the summer, and then there are the gorgeous burnt tones of autumn – orange, ochre yellows, rich rusty browns and deep reds and purples.
As I thought more about this particular view of life I had a sudden memory of “photo tapestries”. This type of art form came onto the scene maybe ten or fifteen years ago. The artist would take thousands of photos of human faces. Then he or she would render them as miniature pictures and lay them out to create one large unique image of a specific face, usually someone famous such as the Mona Lisa.
And so I thought of God as the artist creating each of us and then allowing us to co-create our life tapestry/photo through our behavior choices and responses to life events. He would then take each completed photo and lay it out with all the others to form a complete photo-tapestry of the whole world from start to finish.
Just imagine, we are each a tiny, unique, infinitesimal yet very important part of the whole. We are each a wonderful creation of God with possibilities and opportunities to create a grand self portrait. Then he, the Grand Master Artist, gets to take our individual portraits – our works of art – to blend them together to create his work of art – the human history of the world.
As I thought this all through it made me want to make the rest of my life as beautiful and as interesting as possible. I want my life to represent joy and love and laughter. I know I have created many winter scenes, but I have also managed to weave in to my own personal tapestry/life portrait much of spring and summer and the glorious tones of autumn.
Then, when it is time, I will lay my gift at the feet of the Master. Only he knows where my creative work shall be placed in the bigger scheme of things. Only he knows the unique offering that I have made to the whole. Only he knows and can appreciate the bigger picture. And when the time is right I am sure he will allow me to share that too.
I am a spring-into-summer person. I love the awakening of the land; the buds on the trees and bushes, the early daffodils and tulips, the birds and the bees awakening from a winter lethargy, and the sun rising higher in the sky and giving more warmth. I am not a fan of the arrival of autumn, even though I think autumn itself is a very beautiful season. I simply don’t like the fact that it heralds the coming winter and the cooler temperatures and the presence of grey days.
Our local streets have filled with more traffic than there has been for the past couple of months. Yes, school is back in session, the beginning of another scholastic year. I have no little ones at home any more, so the only way I am aware of the school year is through the wax and wane of traffic volume and the occasional comment from teacher friends as they gear up or gear down for the start or close of the school year.
However, as all the children go back to school and the traffic somehow seems to double on the roads, I get that first hint that summer is over. I fight the arrival of autumn with everything in me. I have friends who talk about not wearing, or accessorizing with, white after the first of September. Why ever not? The sun is usually still as hot and bright as it was on thirty one August. So, rebellious as ever, I wear white until it gets grey and rainy or just too cold to seem appropriate anymore.
It seems like the first of September, or at least the Labor Day weekend, heralds the beginning of “we can’t do that any more” season. Despite the act that we are blessed with extended summer weather here in Florida, people seem to stop doing everything overnight. No more picnics and bar-b-q’s, no more going to the beach, no more back yard parties, and everyone pulls their boat out of the water.
The two things that Floridians do hang onto, however, are shorts and flip-flops. Year round, those two articles seem to have become the unofficial state symbol of the State of Florida. Even on a cold and rainy day, which fortunately we get relatively few of, there are those die-hard southern guys and gals who staunchly wear these two items as proudly as if they were the State flag.
But back to autumn. The Fall season always brings a feeling of melancholy to my heart and soul. I know that all the seasons are God-given and I appreciate them as such. Perhaps in the bigger scheme of things the yearly passing of the seasons reminds me of the seasons of my life. Although I have enjoyed them all, some more than others, I am well aware that I am in my own personal autumn. This means that winter is just around the corner.
I am well prepared for this, at least as well prepared as any human can be. Because of the Christian faith values that I hold and adhere to, I do not fear the winter years because I know they will culminate in a new life. It’s just that I still have a lot of living that I’d like to do and many more things that I want to accomplish. But, like everyone else on the planet, my time will come when it’s meant to and I have little control over that.
So in the meantime, I’ll wear white until it’s too cold, I’ll go to the beach as often as possible after Labor Day and, although I don’t own a boat, I’ll imagine floating out on the sea with my hand trailing in warm waters. I also have my beloved lanai at home and as usual will spend as much time as possible out there doing my writing, reading, or just enjoying the incredible gifts of nature that surround me.