Oh, the ache of summer’s end, it gets me every year. The Celtic music playing in my van matches the season with its quick stepping fiddles and the repetitive notes of the flute, a bit melancholy, a bit exciting, but never exhausting its welcome. Fiery red branches touching arms with the golden maples for the 15th, 30th, maybe even 100th year in a row seem to sing a similar tune. Hello fall, goodbye summer, again and again.
There’s laughter on the porch as an assembly line of wood is stacked in its new home. Dining room chairs pulled out because the sun’s cheerful presence made known my lack of mopping the floors. Light always reveals hidden dirt, there’s just no escaping it.
Later that day when I’m almost to the finish line I hear, “Mama, let's go for a walk, you’ll love the tree up the road..." Spaghetti noodles still limply draped over the edge of the table where the youngest was seated, sauce still in pan, parmesan sprinkled like snow across the countertop, a sink full of plates and forks. The porch door cracks open and those familiar eyes peer in, he heard the request for a walk and knows my bend to decline in order to keep house - “Emma, go for the walk, we’ll all help clean up afterward.” A sneaky grin under his full beard convinces me quickly and we slip on shoes and overcoats or whatever we can find that’s not still tucked away with the scarves and hats of January.
And we walk.
To that tree that isn’t ours, but we call it, “our tree” because that one autumn day when the breeze was light and the leaves barely holding on, we walked under a sprinkling of orange and red peddles that rained down on us for what felt like an hour. We laughed and jumped and kicked at the piles and lifted our hands to the sky catching all the tree surrendered to us. It was said that day, the timing of the maple releasing its leaves at the wind’s command, was for us. So, the tree became, “our tree" and remains still in our minds.
The linking of arms will forever be one of my fondest memories.
It’s that time of year again when we knit in close to one another to stay warm and arrange the table with more than paper plates and vases of dandelions. Everything changes in fall, everything slows, and we’re all challenged to re-learn how to live more hours within these walls together. The children are growing and changing so quickly it’s no wonder grace is needed moment by moment under this roof.
The Word tells us to rejoice always in what the Lord has done and is doing. We’re called to keep in full view and at our fingertip's, gentleness in all things and to all things. Gentleness, not as much in kind touches and hushed words, though rich and lifegiving. But gentleness can be the way we let go of grievances caused by others and the contentment we possess and the generosity we express within our hearts, all spring from a gentle spirit. The way we bend our ways and wills to those rubbing shoulders with us daily.
You know the people...the ones sharing your washing machine and squeezing from the same shampoo bottle. The ones borrowing your socks or favorite DVD never to be returned. The ones inviting you over for Thanksgiving this year and the ones you’ll invite to your feasting table. Our leniency and mercy toward the faults and failures of others will always echo to the world a spirit of gracious humility, gentleness being evident to all.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, REJOICE! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near." Philippians 4:4-5
Today is the day to find gentleness in all your doings.
"My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass." Psalm 102:11