Saturday, October 31, 2009

October's Prayer

This morning I ate my breakfast outside. It is a kind of misty, damp morning; the weather is warm, but threatening rain. It’s the last day of my favorite month. Well, October is one of my many favorite months… each month has something unique and delicious about it. However, October has always been at the top of my list. I love the chill in the air, the feeling of drawing within, sweaters, fall vegetables and the time for making soups. Then there are the trees. I’m not sure I have words for the feelings that are aroused in me as I look upon a woods arrayed in the glorious colors of October.

There is sadness there for sure, and yet, it almost as if God is giving us one last gift before we settle in for the coming winter: the gift of breathing in unspeakable beauty. October awakens all these things in me, and more.

Today is the last day of October, yet today is warm enough to eat my Rice Krispies outside. I took my bowl and went out back to watch the leaves fall, wishing that I could pause time long enough to completely drink in the moment of following a leaaf floating to the ground. But, it is impossible to pause, of course, and even if we could, it would lose all of its power and magnificence. It is the moment of witnessing the falling leaf that is the prayer. Trying to grasp it or to slow its decent is somehow as wrong as it is pointless.

Our lives are like that. We are like the leaf. We move through time to an inevitable end, yet to cling or grasp after the moment before is somehow a sinful act. I’m not terribly fond of the words sin or sinful, but in this context it seems appropriate. We move through time, fluttering to the ground. It is in the fluttering that we are blessed.

Oh, dear God, thank you for October. Thank you for the gift of sight and the gift of colors. What a glorious month this was! My cup is full and I am at peace.

It occurred to me that happiness is in the little moments of our lives. It is like the young birch tree standing in the middle of a dense forest in winter. All the trees are bare, yet somehow the tiny birch tree manages to retain its leaves. They are almost white, no trace of green, for sure, but they stand out and shimmer against the backdrop of the gray and brown of the giant trees. Happiness is like the tiny birch in winter. Moments of little pleasures, that stands out amongst the rest.

Last summer, my granddaughter who was not yet two, came for dinner. She finished her tomato and asked for more. I cut up another slice and placed it on her plate. When she saw the tomato she clapped her hands and squealed, “Oooh, tomato! I’m so happy!” In that moment she experienced pure joy, it stood out like the tiny birch tree in the forest. That moment stayed with me, and I have thought about it often since then.

Happiness is a collection of tiny moments that stand out from the rest of our day. All we need do is to take the time to notice them as the pass; like the fluttering of a leaf to the ground, or the young birch tree in the forest, or even a slice of tomato on my plate. Joy comes in little doses. Yet, when we are able to notice them, they create a garland that we can follow, moving from one to the next. Somehow, the tiny little moments of joy can fill a huge space and totally wrap you in peace. Then as you look into the forest all you can see is the tiny birch tree illuminating your life.


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