Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Gasp. A Whiff. A Promise.

The earth turns in her orbit to warm the southerly side of her round form; warming her down-under side, as it were. Here in the north, we've been basking in the glory of her golden rays and blossom-scented days while our fellow southern hemisphere friends retreated into the cool shadows of winter for contemplation and dreaming.  Now it's our turn to capture those memories of summer, like fireflies in a jar, to carry us through the coming winter.

My friends are planting bulbs, hiding them under the soil where they will be kept an eye on for a hint that the winter is over, and the promise of life renewed. I imagine them sitting with a steaming mug of tea, gazing out over a frozen landscape with hope in their hearts, planted like their tulip bulbs, to emerge with the first warm days of spring.

As for me, I went for a walk on crisp October evening marveling at the stained-glass colors of auburn, gold, crimson and saffron that shone brightly against a cerulean sky. The scent of acorns and fallen leaves scented the air and a breeze, recently a denizen of the Arctic circle lifted a curl from my neck.  I moved easily and joyfully in this cool, dry air and smiled at the kaleidoscopic display nature revealed to me.

It seems intuitive to turn to contemplation or reconciliation in the fall.  For me, it's a time of reckoning and taking stock. I'm like the squirrel storing acorns away to nosh on all winter, gathering the kernels of experiences, feelings, flashes of insight, notions of things I'd like to try and putting them away to savor in the womb of winter.

Strolling over the blue-gray stone path, I took a big lung-full of air, thick with the scent of autumn; I walked through a ray of sun slanting sharply across my path. As I stepped into the light and breathed again, I was surprised to inhale the sweet and sublime scent of honeysuckle. I gasped and breathed again. Stopped in my tracks, I looked around for the flowers that were evidently confused into blooming in October.  And there they were, wrapped on a cedar branch, six perfect blossoms shining in a single ray of sun. Their audacity and bravery transfixed me. They didn't follow form. They were a defiant expression of determined summer to be seen and smelled; remembered and appreciated.

I laughed out loud at these crazy flowers and thought of how I and many of my friends and family are just like them. We are determined expressions of our essential being, out of context sometimes and unapologetic for it. We don't morph to fit into the scene; rather we choose to scent our surroundings with our being, leaving a lingering mark of our passing on the psyche of those who meet us. I seem to keep company with renegades.

Perhaps it's narcissistic to recognize the impact we have on our surroundings. I prefer to think it is a recognition of the grace God has given us - every one - to shine in our unique ways. I choose to be thankful for what I have to offer and joyfully share that whatever is useful to others.
I will remember that whiff of honeysuckle when I feel my surroundings closing in on me and daring me to shine brightly and risk being "put out."  So, I will make myself a promise, if a delicate flower can open it's petals in October then I can surely be at least that strong in staying true to myself, too.