Brisk Morning Walks

This week, my mornings were free.  So I would bundle up and step out into 37 degrees, drive to a gravel path along the canal, and start walking north.  Each day I would observe more hues of orange, yellow and red.  By Thursday, there were numerous baby ducks following their mothers, darting leaves floating along. I discovered an access point to the Museum of Art and a side entrance to the Museum’s neighboring park, filled with quirky metal benches and intricate statues.

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In the busy day-to-day, I forget how much I long to be in nature.  How nature gives my soul space to rest and to expand.  Nature creates no agenda except to linger, to enjoy, to rest, to observe and seek its beauty.  All beautiful gifts.  As I keep digging into this ancient practice of spiritual direction, I find that this is what I desire all my waking hours to be like.  Nature gives me a beautiful glimpse into how God desires to be with me.  A relationship in which I linger, He enjoys me and allows me to rest, I seek his beauty both individually and corporately.

Autumn also invites me to examine:

In which ways am I being made more beautiful? 

What layers or old habits am I shedding?

More on these questions next post…

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Destination: Chicago

This past week was fall break and Chels and I spent some time in Chicago visiting some college friends of mine and exploring the city.  We ate lots of good food, rode the train, took long walks in quiet neighborhoods, saw wonderful skyline views.  Simple, yet special.

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Beautiful skyline view from Grant Park

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              Waiting for the train

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Death of a Dream-First Draft

Death of Dream

Slowly my body

crumples. Autumn creates

creaky bones. Arms lay

limp, aches

accelerate. I arise from bed

take a gulp of water, attempt to

touch my toes. As I age, my body

perceives seasons. My body is slowly

dying.

In summer, I remember barefeet,

around the world basketball, sticky

hands from ice cream. A world where

Candyland seemed real. The season

where my right foot launched from a 9 in.

board, propelling my legs forward

fourteen feet, landing triumphantly

in the sand.

Winter is coming

soon. Hibernation and hot

chocolate. Warmth lingers

by sitting still, pondering this

perennial season.

I wrote this poem as I leave teaching as a profession, as I grieve my daily body’s weariness, as I daily grieve dreams left unrealized. Yet daily and slowly I’m learning to sit and feel the warmth that winter does bring, even if I only realize it later.

Tears and Pumpkin Pancakes

Leaves are just starting to turn here in Indy.  To welcome fall, there is plenty of fall baking.  I’ve made applesauce, apple crisp, pumpkin bars, a breakfast pumpkin porridge made with butternut squash, and pumpkin pancakes.  In our apartment we are burning an oatmeal cookie candle almost daily.  We now are buying fall flowers for our kitchen table, filled with hues of orange, yellow, red, accented with a deep purple.  Spices of choice are cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and cloves.

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Yes, fall is beginning in all of its glory.  And I love fall so much.

But I must also admit that fall means acknowledging a slow (but maybe fast) descent into winter. Into hibernation. Stillness. Cold. Isolation. For everything there is a season.

And in this subtle, beautiful autumn, I’m starting to grieve.  Morning tears surface as I acknowledge that I’m walking away from teaching.  I’m leaving a profession I thought that I loved.  I cry because I’m sad that I have an autoimmune disease and it feels like some days I spend all of my energy trying to manage my environment.  I’m not as flexible as I wish I could be.  I grieve as I fight to leave my old self behind: one that wants to defend myself at all costs, to please others, simply to conform and fit in.

As I eat my pumpkin pancakes and wipe the tears from my eyes, I’m reminded that I’m being remade.  It’s hard work, painful and lonely, yet I’m being shaped into someone only the Father knows.

What are you enjoying this autumn season?

What are you grieving? How are you changing?