Life is full of calming moments

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Autumn has come to the lake. After weeks of brilliant sunsets that arrived with the cooler weather, the trees along the banks joined the colorful show — nature granting them one last hurrah before tucking them in for the deep sleep of winter.

The pear tree next door glows with red and gold leaves that dance in the cool morning breeze. And I wait patiently for my maple tree to turn from the tired green of late summer to the fiery brilliance I know is coming soon.

This is my favorite season. The natural world seems to slow to a snail’s pace, relaxing into harvest, preparing for a time of rest that blows in on the first freezing winds.

We humans fall into step as well, lingering a bit longer over a warm cup of coffee or tea or maybe hot chocolate as we breathe in the scent of smoke from fireplaces lighted for the first time. We venture deep into closets searching for the comfort of a favorite sweater or the familiar feel of our best old quilt.

When I was a child this was a wonderful time, especially the days following Halloween before the rush of the holidays that came after Thanksgiving. Fall meant long afternoons playing in crisp brown leaves until the shadows of the approaching evening brought a chill, sending me inside to the warmth of mother’s kitchen.

I still listen for the crunch of leaves as I walk around my yard on an autumn afternoon. And the warm enveloping feel of my kitchen is just as welcoming on a chilly evening as it was in my younger days. An appreciation for the simplest pleasures fills my soul when I stare in wonder at a huge harvest moon.

This is a season for stopping, for allowing the spinning motion of our lives to wind down for a moment. Nature seems to do this, seems to take account of what she produced and then releases the striving for a while — taking a breather from sowing and reaping.

Perhaps it is good for us to follow her example and to take stock of what we have, to pay attention to what we sometimes forget to notice in our rush through life. Give ourselves a chance to slow down for a while and just enjoy being.

Early the other morning, I took a walk down to the lake and stood for a while soaking in the scenery. The sun hit the calm water sending little sparkles dancing across it. Along the edges of the lake the mirror images of orange and red and gold tree tops shimmered in the stillness. A lone bird rose from its nest in the tall grasses and skimmed its way over the water in search of breakfast.

It was a holy moment, a slice of perfection given freely to anyone willing to stop long enough to notice it.

This year, more than ever, I need those moments, desire the pace of autumn, the ease of living for a while without the rush. Amid reports about political maneuvering and never-ending stories about the next impending crisis, I savor a few minutes of stepping out of the noise and into the peace of the changing seasons.

The season brings something wonderful to our lives as well — if we only take the time to see, to feel and to experience its holy moments.