The older I get the more I love summer. I like relaxing into the warmth, not having to be constantly on guard against creeping cold. I love the simplicity of bare feet and not having to keep up with jackets and scarves. I love shooing the children outside, eating on the back porch as long evenings sink into soft, inviting nights. I love the excitement of checking the garden each day to see what’s ripe, feeling life exploding around me, drinking it in with all of my senses. The first breath of autumn thrills but also saddens me. I am never quite ready for another summer to be over; I am always a little afraid of the coming of cold and darkness. But when winter finally comes, it comes as a relief. For weeks I hang on to each bit of color and brightness, trying to absorb each brilliant leaf and patch of blue sky. Then one day in late November or early December I look around and know autumn is really gone, leaving behind a spare landscape of muted browns and grays. And it isn’t sad at all. It’s peaceful, graceful even. There is room for the soul to breath in the space between bare branches and darkening sky.
This is what it feels like to pray. To let thoughts and plans float away. To want less. To stop trying to keep up. The church fathers speak of centering the mind within the heart. I think the are telling us to become like winter trees, to let go, feeling the life hidden deep in the heart of ourselves while standing naked, exposed, reaching for the sky.
I have to make time for this somehow, even now, while I am in the middle of the busy, burgeoning summertime of life, when possessions and activities accrue constantly, filling my time and thoughts and often threatening to overwhelm me with mess and busy-ness. I am rarely disciplined enough to carve much space out of my day for silence or prayer. But sometimes moments are given to me as a gift, moments that lift me out of my distraction and remind me that there is a life within. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes it’s as simple as a view through the car window in between errands, taking a moment to contemplate bare trees lifting graceful limbs against a gray and quiet sky.
(I found this picture here. I have no connection with the website and found it through a Google image search, but want to give credit where due for the beautiful photograph.)