Making Room for the “Wow”

Photo: The barn looks best with the fallen leaves on it, and the maple tree that so stretches beyond our stone fence is a source of great delight (and many, many leaves to rake).

Did you know that last Sunday was the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi? I didn’t until I walked into church that morning and noticed that everyone had brought their animal to worship. No kidding: dogs, cats, rodents up in the sanctuary at church. And yes, my pastor laid hands on every one of them for a special blessing of the animals. It was… a long service…

But the reason why church has stuck with me all week is because of the sermon that was delivered about St. Francis himself and his love for the natural world. My pastor explained that the saint didn’t only love animals, but had a supreme love for the entirety of the natural world. That he wrote about the beauty of the world with reverence and awe. She said that it may be impossible for us to live as he did (he chose to give up a very privileged life to live in deep poverty in service to God), but  we can attempt to emulate him in other ways by choosing to make room in our days to look at the world and stop to marvel.

I told The Husband during “the peace” (aka, everybody get up and talk and shake hands time) that I feel like we’re good at that. That we’re very good at stopping and enjoying the world.

“Uh, I mean… I think you are good at that. I think you’re really good at that, actually. I probably wouldn’t do it if you didn’t…”

It’s true.  I’ve been known to stop mid-thought to look closer, take in, reach out for, or simply bask in the beautiful. I often find myself in awe of the natural beauty around me, marveling at the detail of the smallest leaf or the tallest tree. These are not always prayerful moments (though sometimes they are. Who wouldn’t say a prayer on a boat in front Niagara Falls, for example?), but they are moments of sincere appreciation.

And so, my Quiet Thoughts have been about the beauty of the world this week. The Moon has been spectacular all week long, and I found myself staring at a broadcast of the lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning rather than doing much writing. I’ve also found myself staring at it while walking down the street, or driving from place to place. Indeed, the drive about town all week has been beautiful, as we’re just entering peak coloring here in MetroWest. You can’t turn your head without seeing a flaming red tree or a brilliant yellow, or the orange of the season… Not to mention decorative pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes on old stone walls or yard fences or front porches… it’s a time of beauty. It’s a time for “wow,” and I keep finding myself saying it multiple times during the day.

And I write all of this because it has been a challenging week. I’ve had a lot of struggles with the boys, yes, but then I’ve also been managing obligations all week that have stolen my energy and focus. The fear and loathing and woe of the news has not been helpful, either, and I’ve found myself turning off my television and radio for want of fresh air and thought. Not to mention that everyone seems to want a piece of me: the phone keeps ringing, g-chat windows keep popping up, and texts come bounding in from folk who need this and that, or just a little bit of time… I feel like I’ve been giving away time all week… and in my moments of exasperation or exhaustion, I’ve found myself looking up at the sky or into the trees and I haven’t been disappointed, not once, by the view. And I’ve been thoughtful about how lucky and privileged I am to live in such a place that can astound me and move me in such powerful.

As I continue to explore the new narrative of “quiet” versus “loud” in my 30s, I am fascinated by how quieting and calming the world is right now, and how the loud coloring happening all around is a major reason for it. I am also mindful of how quickly and easily my own mental noise will tone down when I choose to look up and take a deep breath. I’m curious about the mental sound of the upcoming winter, the literal silence that will come when all the birds finally vacate (have you noticed that there is less “chatter” in the woods of late? I hear the honk of geese, but little else these days…). I wonder how even these Quiet Thoughts will change as the song of the year continues on… I’m so happy to continue to share all of this with you, Friday after Friday, season after season. You all, with your comments and ideas, also provide plenty of “wow” moments for my days. I’m so lucky to have people out there who care and visit and share. Thank you for being wonderful.

The colors of the day are warm, and so are the rays of the sun shining down on Massachusetts, but the air itself is not at all. There is a chill where the shadows fall, and goosebumps quickly emerge on exposed arms and uncovered feet…it’s a good day to cozy up to blankets (I’m currently wrapped in two) and contemplation of heat sources. It is a Friday for gazing out the window at the natural wonder of your choice. It’s a Friday for wishes of your first good mug of hot chocolate, knitted gloves and thick socks. It is a Friday for me to wish you a long warm embrace under the beautiful moon and a clear sky. I wish you an arm wrapped around your shoulders and a kiss on the cheek, playful and provocative. I wish you apples baked with cinnamon or stuffed with good gooey cheese. I wish you a good french onion soup, preferably made by loving hands, served with extra good cheese and satisfying croutons. I wish you multiple opportunities to look up for a moment, look around you, and say “wow.”  I wish you a book in your blanket-covered lap, steaming tea on the table beside you, your mind in a far off place, a far off time, with a far off person. Finally, I wish you the warmth of knowing that you are worthy of all of the blessings of your life, the wisdom of knowing that the love that you give comes back to you in unexpected and glorious ways, the joy of knowing that you are brilliant and powerful, and the awe of knowing that you are dearly loved by many, many people.

Until Monday, dear reader, take care.

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