I wake up in the dark, to the sound of softly picked chords on a guitar. The sky is cloaked in a thick silver gray when I pull up the blinds, but there is just enough light to read the last chapters of Luke, and to spread the needs of the day before the one who owns it.
All the trees on the street have shed their leaves; their boughs are bent, and lacy. The withered plants in the back garden have been knocked a bit sideways by the wind, and are nearing an angle that verges on reproach — nevertheless, conscience o’ mine, this day is too cold for clean up. This is a day for laying vegetables in the slow cooker for split pea soup, and for listening to the stillness of the house at reading hour.
In these browning days of Autumn we walk forest paths and meander the well-worn avenues of favorite stories. Lucy picks a passage about Jo Bhaer (née March) for her literary treasures book:
[W]hen she saw Nat, she felt at once that whether he was a genius or not, here was a lonely, sick boy, who needed just what she loved to give, a home, and motherly care.
When I ask why she’s selected this particular excerpt, she replies, “Here. That last part. Because it means she’s such a good mother, and that gives me a warm feeling. Like when I’m around you.” She comes in for a hug, and at the end of a trying week (in which I was the most trying element), I wrap my arms around her and understand grace again.
Warmth is fast becoming the seasonal theme around Ithilien House: in the coffee-scented pillar candle, the sweaters and coats, the popcorn-and-apple snack times so reminiscent of Farmer Boy evenings. I take notes at a preschool parents’ seminar and hear “warmth and strength” described as the hallmarks of a healthy parent. The warm rooms at home and the idea of reading under a blanket beckon to me from across town whenever I’m out. Now is the time for talking of firesides and snowstorms and Thanksgiving, and for tearing open the thirty-odd individually packaged tea samples we’ve amassed over the summer.
But underneath it all, too, is something as restless as the wind rattling the frost-dried leaves. A freshness — a waking. A stirring.
I know it well. Sometimes it rises out of weariness: an aching gaze toward the resurrection when we will finally be shed of ailments in both body and mind.
Sometimes it simply comes upon the cool air, with a wildness that reminds me we were made for long journeys.
Some deep desire is laid bare as foliage and temperatures drop, and I am thankful to find it there. Gladly I receive the gifts of warmth and the cold-weather comforts of home; more gladly still, I remember that this home is but a way station.
Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
– Augustine of Hippo
Thanks be to God for the barren beauties of Autumn.