I WANT TO AGE LIKE AUTUMN

The trees have transformed
from their shimmering radiance of yellows and reds
into deep, mellow shades of gold, copper, burgundy, and brown.

Their subtle hues convey a rich, sage wisdom
found in the liminal space
between a glorious, colorful celebration
and a quiet, dignified surrender.

The trees, each with a bold and dramatic beauty
that once captured our attention,
now unite and blend together
to offer a lovely backdrop for the day.

I want to age like autumn.

The season beckons us
to exchange sparkling, refreshing glasses
of icy drinks and bubbly beverages
for comforting, soothing mugs
of hot chocolate, sweet cider, spiced tea.

The season relieves us
from the need to cool ourselves in the heat of the day
and invites us
to warm ourselves in the living of these days,
to slow our pace in the ritual of the drinking.

The season compels us
to bundle up and snuggle more;
storing tanks and tees, shorts and sandals,
donning sweaters and socks, caps and coats,
wrapping ourselves in the warmth of love,
the companionship of others.

I want to age like autumn.

As the dawns and the dusks draw closer together
the daylight hours become more precious, significant.
The days of my life seem to do the same
and I want to savor, treasure, cherish… remember.

Oh yes, I can sense the approaching winter
but for today, I simply hope
to linger in the golden light,
to breathe in the crisp, cool air,
to delight in the abundant harvest,
and to welcome the insight of the season.

I want to age like autumn.



(Photos by Karen, late October 2022)

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS: GLORIES

GLORIES

Thank you for the glories…
the brilliant, bright array
of golden autumn color
on this October day.

Thank you for the glories…
found in this wondrous view
but all of autumn at its peak
gives just a glimpse of you.

Thank you for the glories…
in the tiny blessings, too –
those simple, sacred moments
when surprising joy breaks through.

Thank you for the glories…
let your presence guide our gaze
that we may find the extra
in our ordinary days.


This is the last picture and poem of the Autumn Reflections series. Thank you for visiting!

(Photo by Karen)

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS: GATHERINGS


GATHERINGS

Thank you for the gatherings…
such as the leaves that fall
to join the brave but lonely one
who was the first to fall.

Thank you for the gatherings…
of leaves raked into piles
for children to fall into
with their delightful smiles.

Thank you for the gatherings…
for, like leaves of every kind
we too, can join together –
true humanity to find.

Thank you for the gatherings…
leaves surrender from above,
inviting us to trust, release,
and cover the world in love.

Thank you for the gatherings…
may we expand community
’til we unite in grateful joy
for all eternity.



(This is the fifth of my series, Autumn Reflections, using pictures and poems. Photos by Karen)

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS: GREENINGS

GREENINGS

Thank you for the greenings…
for as leaves begin to fall
there is new life still appearing
to inspire and to call.

Thank you for the greenings…
the invitations to believe
that in every season of the year
new life can be received.

Thank you for the greenings…
they promise us that you
will give us opportunities
to always start anew.

Thank you for the greenings…
you delight and still surprise;
just when our dreams are fading
new sprouts begin to rise.



(This is the fourth of a series of Autumn Reflections using pictures and poems. Photo by Karen.)

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS: GLEANINGS

GLEANINGS

Thank you for the gleanings…
such as bounties that are found
by the deer who’s eating apples
which were left upon the ground.

Thank you for the gleanings…
guide my heart and soul and mind
to clear away the obvious –
your greater gifts to find.

Thank you for the gleanings…
those lessons that remain
when the fruit has all been gathered.
What wisdom might I gain?

Thank you for the gleanings…
show me what to leave behind
as a legacy for others
in my final harvest time.



(This is the third of a series of autumn reflections. Photo by Karen)

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS: GRACES

GRACES

Thank you for the graces…
as I walk my daily mile,
your wildflowers blooming
make the journey quite worthwhile.

Thank you for the graces…
I tend to look up to the trees
while other autumn splendor
is here right next to me.

Thank you for the graces…
in this beauty all around,
for if I pay attention
you also will be found.

Thank you for the graces…
your gifts are showing me
that I need not look to heaven
to find eternity.

Thank you for the graces…
guide me in every way
so I can bring a blessing
and your kingdom here today.



(Photos by Karen)

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS: GLIMPSES


GLIMPSES

Thank you for the glimpses…
autumn colors that I see,
the early turning of the leaves
still clinging to the tree.

Thank you for the glimpses…
for the season brings to mind
how you make all things beautiful
in your perfect pace and time.

Thank you for the glimpses…
while the harvest is collected,
you see potential still in me
to be refined, perfected.

Thank you for the glimpses…
of the glories yet to be,
the splendor of the autumn –
or bright eternity.

(The autumn beauty inspired me to write six reflections under a new blog category, A Picture and A Poem. I will be sharing them this week. May the season uplift and refresh your spirit!)


Photos by Karen

EACH MOMENT IS A NEW FRONTIER

Jim gave me this plaque at a time when I was transitioning between careers. I had recently left one position but had not yet found a new vocation, so my purpose seemed unclear – and my life seemed quite dull. In fact, I remember one day when I proudly called to tell him that I had cleaned the grout around our bathtub – and promptly burst into tears. He and I can laugh about this now, but at that time, I was quite sad to speak of grout cleaning as the highlight of my day.

The words on the plaque lifted my spirits by reminding me that each moment holds potential. Our very next moment might offer an invitation to an exciting adventure, or inspire a meaningful thought, or become a memorable experience. The idea that life will never be stagnant, that at any moment life could change, gave me much hope.

These days – years later – the plaque speaks to me in another way. I am learning that even with the maturity of age, the insight of the Spirit, the wisdom of experience, and the routine of my retirement days, I will never be an expert at daily living. There will still be moments that surprise, confuse, or upset me (stagnancy does have its benefits)!

Now the plaque serves as my reminder to be gentle with others and myself when we stumble in life. We can never be perfectly prepared or knowledgeable or responsive for every unexpected moment or encounter. We will not be experts in this unfolding, often surprising journey of daily living. Life is a continuous adventure into new frontiers, whether we are traveling far or simply walking into the next moment.

May we learn to receive one another as sacred companions for our journey, look upon one another with merciful tenderness, and graciously help our fellow travelers who stumble along the way.

For each moment is a new place we have never been.


(Photo by Karen)

LET IT STOP WITH ME

Every day we have opportunities to bring about God’s goodness through our words and actions. Our words can convey compassion, encouragement, or understanding for those who need them. Our actions can bring comfort, healing, or companionship for those who hurt or struggle. We become God’s love for others by speaking and serving in that love, and in doing so, we bring more of God’s kingdom here – for others and for us.

A song that inspires me to live this way is the song, “Let It Start in Me” by The Gaither Vocal Band. Each stanza describes God’s better future, and the refrain serves as our invitation to help bring that about. As we cling to the hope of one day experiencing “a dawn arising on a brand-new day” or “gold emerging from refining flame” or “thunder rumbling ‘cross the thirsty plain” we proclaim,

There’s a change a-coming,
Let it start in me.
1

Along with our active, visible efforts, there are times when our inaction and silence can foster more of God’s love in our world, too. A mindful moment of restraint can become our best gesture of kindness and generosity. Each time we are tempted to participate in the interactions that come our way, we can pause to ask ourselves, “Does this need to go any further? Or does this stop with me?”

We may not be able to stop a problem, but we can stop contributing to it.

This week as I listened once again to the Gaithers’ beautiful song, some new lyrics came to me:

“Let It Stop with Me”…

There’s a word of gossip I heard someone say
There’s a finger of blame that points far away
There’s a voice of hot anger when we disagree
That’s an old way of being –
Let it stop with me.

There’s an urge to kick back when we have been wronged
There’s a grudge we have carried for far too long
There’s a neglect of another, a focus on me
That’s an old way of being –
Let it stop with me.

There’s a habit of adding more fuel to the fire
There’s an apathy keeping us stuck in the mire
because we believe this is the way life should be
That’s an old way of being –
Let it stop with me.

When might our better choice be to resist rather than respond, to refrain rather than react? As we enter into this new month, we have a brand-new season to become more present to the moments – and more mindful of our responses.



1 Let It Start in Me songwriters: Gloria Gaither, William J. Gaither, Dony Mcguire, Reba Rambo
(Photo by Karen)

WHAT OTHERS THINK OF US

While walking at Valley Park last week, I noticed this sign written in chalk on the post of a picnic table: Closer Meeting. Of course, I saw this as a sacred invitation to see what else had been written there! And the very first words I read brightened my spirit. “Have a great day! You matter!”

I smiled as I walked around to the other side of the table, grateful for the one who had taken the time to bless my day. What a sweet act of kindness!

And then I found these words…

“You suck.” After the initial surprise, I laughed aloud.

We can easily recognize that both statements say more about the one who wrote them than about me or any others. I was a random passer-by who happened to read their words, and not necessarily the object of their affirmation or scorn. Yet I admit that I readily accepted the first statement for myself, but quickly became defensive with the second one. I am quite sensitive about what others think of me. Criticism – even unintended criticism – can hurt!

There have been times when people have affirmed and appreciated me, and other times, well, not so much. Years ago, a pastor-friend wisely suggested that I first receive criticism as information, then take time to discern whether or not it applies. Do the words say more about that person and our relationship than about my character? Or do the words, however hurtful, offer any nuggets of truth that are helpful for my growth and maturation?

In the living of these days, there will be moments when we offend, anger, annoy, or frustrate someone – at times without realizing we have! As much as we may strive to live as loving, gentle, gracious peacemakers, there will be times when people think badly of us. And there will be times when we are not at our best, when we actually intend to respond with hurtful or vengeful words. There will be times when our words or actions might upset someone, and other times, our silence or restraint will do the same! We will not please everyone all the time.

What a gift to know that we are always, always, beloved by God. Whether we are striving at our best or succumbing to our worst, God’s gracious and merciful love keeps sustaining us, helping us, and yes, even correcting us. God’s love always remains.

What people say about us does not make us who we are. What matters most is what God says of us, and God calls each one of us beloved. When we learn to live in this awareness – that we are God’s beloved – we can become more patient and understanding with others, for we recognize that they are God’s beloved, too.

Even our harshest critics.



(Photos by Karen, Valley Park, WV)