This Autumn feels different. Like when you walk into a room known very well and begin to see the walls and angles from a different vantage. And you can’t say just how or where, but things look different. Perspective has shifted and the light and shadow play a game of new rules.
I am not hallucinating.
The Autumn comes. The leaves shake off their glam. The very air dries up and becomes crisp and sharp. The shadows lengthen and the sun stays lower in the sky to see us face to face.
I usually get tired come cold weather. The early afternoon sun shines in my eyes and gives me headaches. I fall victim to the trick, always thinking time is later than it is. I want to sleep early at night, late in morning and catch as many naps as I can trap the time to. Something within hears the signal of Autumn and Winter aslo coming, then begins to change within as well. Some internal point of reference changes orientation with the turn of the seasons.
Most of my life, I assumed this was because I am part Black Bear. Hibernating always sounded like a great idea, a vacation, a wise strategy. I granted myself a certain nap-time for my attentions. I would allow myself to check out, to withdraw some emotional awareness or regard. I have hibernated in many ways, many years. And then, change again on my birthday in march, or Easter.
But this Fall feels different. I can felt the season shift. I have been raking the leaves often. Hibernation won’t visit me this year. I am called to stay awake. Pay full attention and watch carefully the actions of the world as we unfold.
I had a dream I tended a fire in my fireplace. I stayed up all night and the fire blazed. I will not lose my sleep this Winter, that is for sure. But I am not withdrawing. My attention is engaged. I feel very awake. And aware.
Life happens, and sometimes things happen that give our existence some perspective. I find that this morning I came to work a little earlier. Walking a few blocks between parking and the hospital, I saw the sunrise on the Horizon. I stopped for a moment and really looked at it. I continued down the block feeling the ground through my shoes with each step feeling slightly different. I felt my weight underside. I concentrated on taking long slow deliberate breaths. The morning wind blew through the leaves on the bamboo trees next to the sidewalk. The leaves were dry and shriveled from the current heat wave. I walked past a beautiful sycamore tree. It had excellent proportions. I thought about spending years getting to know every branch and twig in that tree and still never completely know it; a comforting and sad thought. I had a moment of consciousness. A moment of touching eternity. These moments come and help us put our life and priorities in their proper position. I become reoriented to Life
This should happen more often. Our culture should train us to seek these moments like we seek entertainment. But we don’t. Too often, it takes a death of a mother or father or friend; a close call in a car accident; a new diagnosis that completely changes our lives to that moment. It takes a cardinal change when the path of our lives take a dramatic turn on a hinge of incident to bring us to this moment of consciousness when we can look at life and see how short and precious and impermanent is our time together.
I pray we find these opportunities without requiring heartbreak. We should be able to be this aware. Let us find a place to access eternity like a docking station for creation. Look for it and find it. Look for it in the wind in the trees, in the hot touch of sunlight making sweat rise on your skin or the chilling wind of winter frosting each breath. Find it in the crashing of ocean waves, the saltwater as it meets the earth; in the sound of rain on your roof and the calls of the excited mockingbird in my yard. He is showing off and my just for the pleasure of my ears. Find it in the hug of your family and the feel of your house keys in your hand.
Eternity does not come and go. It is ever-present, everywhere, every moment waiting for us to notice our gifts. Breath and walk and look.