It’s fall in Wisconsin. And once again the seasons take me by the hand and calm my soul.
It happens every year. Summer comes, and I am filled with hope at the coming adventures. We saturate the months with more than the suspension can comfortably hold. There is down time, but it is barely enough to recover, never enough to gain any traction.
There are victors in this overbooked dance. We jam ourselves into packed vans and ram across the countryside. We get some good family time around foreign fires and stretch our wings–together. We somehow thrive, even in the tight weave of summer that we create for ourselves.
But there are casualties. Of course there are casualties. Sanity, one might argue, is worn thin by the time September rolls around and the rest of the local kiddos are shuffling into their classrooms. For us, no such migration occurs, but we are ready for the return of a different, calmer kind of routine.
Unfortunately for us, the time to settle back in doesn’t arrive predictably at Labor Day weekend. We’ve still got a month of the wild ride left. For the past decade, we’ve been part of a glorious annual Shakespeare production, one that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but that baby digs it’s heels in like a pissed off mule right about Labor day. We’ve been pretty well consumed for over a month already, and then we ramp it up for a weekend of shows. Shakespeare tips the scales and by now, by the time our magical run is complete and the calendar flips over to October, I’m done. Tapped out.
I look outside and the colors are arriving. Where have I been?
And I quickly recognize that the biggest casualty of all is the loss of practice. In the rush of summer, in the craze of days spent on the road and weeks spent in production, the practices of the day fall into disrepair. Those few moments of each day that shove me back out in the right direction, those few seconds of silence, of prayer, of presence that steer the remainder of the day, get lost.
As it is happening, somewhere near the beginning of June, I am seduced into thinking that they aren’t that important anyway, the practices. What really matters is living the light in each decision, each interaction. The rubber meeting the road of my faith plays out in how I manage myself from minute to minute. The reading, and the devotional time, the walks, the routine… they’re all fine and well, but they aren’t the meat of life. They aren’t the important part.
Every year. Same thing.
And every fall, as the weather turns and the firewood makes its way indoors, I’m called back, wishing I hadn’t relented so easily. Because the whole day’s life IS the important part. It IS where faith meets action, where light is cast and love radiates. It is, indeed, the meat. But without the practices that feed my soul little by little and reorient me day to day, the whole day’s life falls apart. It might not happen right away–for momentum holds the ship together even as it disguises the descent–but it does happen, and I’m left staring down the road at the wagon tracks, the wagon long since lumbered away without me.
And it’s never easy to catch the blasted thing again. Why did I insist on just standing their dumbly and waving as it disappeared into the distance? Couldn’t I have just hung on a little bit harder?
And so, the grace of seasons.
Thank God that I find myself here in a place where the rhythms, though erratic, are still predictable enough to slap me in the face and remind me of the wagons I’ve fallen off. Where the winds change and the very scent of autumn wafting in can harken me back to old times desperate to be made new. I thank God that creation cries out, and helps me on my way.
Time for a deep breath,