Last night, I had this brief moment of peace and beauty that has stayed with me through this morning. I was walking through the sideyard, past the wood pile, crunching down the decompressed granite path, a large bag of birdseed hoisted over my shoulder.
As I refilled the backyard feeders, I could feel the crisp, Fall air. I could see, even in the darkness, the beginnings of the leaves on the ground, and knew how many more, and many acorns too, are about to follow.
I realized again how much I have come to appreciate the changing of season. Even with as much as I love Summer, there’s a time for it to go. I thought about how I soon need to go get some wood for that woodpile, and how warm the fires are in the hearth during winter. All of this gave me a peaceful calm.
Then, The Judge and me spent a few quiet moments on the front porch, sipping some hot chocolate. We both have busy, stressful jobs, and we’d been talking some about that earlier in the evening.
But in that moment, as we simply watching the candles of our family “Ofrenda” as they flickered, and remembered the generations of people whose lives and sacrifices had brought us to that moment right there…ancestors from Europe and Mexico….generations in Central Ohio, South and East Texas….
We thought about what a joy it was to have all the kids come by the night before…what a joy it was to have our family with us too.
I thought about the various ways in which so many cultures honor the past, and honor their “ancestors” or Saints. In Mexican tradition, through the Ofrenda. In the Church, through “All Saints Day,” as we will celebrate Sunday. I remembered that earlier in the day I’d seen a picture of cemeteries in Poland, and how they get lit up with candles…much like Mexican ones….during these days of the year.
So then, this morning, with all that still on my heart, I awoke to the changing of the morning light.
During winter, the Sun shifts so that the morning light comes more directly in through the front windows, and on to the front porch. And, for just a brief moment, it streams through the “Papel PIcado,” the paper flags we’ve temporarily placed along the porch.
I thought about what a blessing this simple thing is during a cold season, and how that little light helps warm the house…
But! I thought of how I have nothing to do with that either. It’s just a small grace, and I was blessed to notice it….just as I was blessed to notice the crunching leaves, the Fall chill, and the creaking porch swing, the night before.
And I remembered a conversation, just yesterday, with a member of The Woods, who talked about a “Saint” of our church, and how this particular Saint had a childlike “sense of wonder” that was contageous, and that helped this person slow down, and enjoy the grace of a specific moment of beauty and peace.
You’ve seen me write some tough, hard essays this week. I’ve circled back to concepts like “Moral Licensing,” and “Enemy-Making.” I’ve called our time, and speficially some recent words and actions of our President, “dark.”
And whether you agree with me or not, I’m sure you feel the hardshness of these days…the stress of them…the tension in the air. I don’t need to name the specifics today. You feel them.
In the midst of this, please do not miss the gift God gives you to notice the beauty, peace, and calm all around you. Whatever busyness or stress is a part of your life right now, somewhere around you today there is a light hitting a staircase in a new way, or streaming through “Papel Picado.”
Don’t miss that beauty, when it is given to you to see.
Breathe it in, and allow it to bring you small peace, in troubled times.
It’s a small message from God, sent to remind you that generations have helped bring you to this point, and that you are surrounded by “Saints” and heroes, living and dead, who will –like light on the stairs– help guide you into the future, through the grace and mercy of God.