Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Take Stock

This picture makes me happy. Peeling apples with pie in mind is what all autumn loving souls ought to be doing this time of year. I've stopped for a visit in Kentucky and have spent the better part of this week cooking, gazing wide-eyed at the ruby leaves, and walking. The rambling bit is for the pure air and trees, of course, but also so I can eat another piece of apple cake. Or crostini. Or stew. Or blondies. In autumn, I want to bake the day away - it's the impulse to gather, draw the wagons round, and settle in for winter. October is the month of indrawing, the season when the fireside song rises up in me and my soul most yearns to gather my beloveds, pull them in from the chilly air and prove my love by the number of good things baked. Autumn is a season to take stock. Harvest days are for counting. This is the tally-up time when we sum up the richness of good things grown, and plan for how it will gladden the coming months of cold. Now, we rejoice in the strength we have, we celebrate every penny of provision.

I'm having a harvest time of soul this year. It's funny, on this road trip, in the quiet of my driving hours I have found the freedom to step back and take stock of my life. The ruts of worry and emotion in which I had become mired at home were left behind, and I found myself able to see what is good and sweet in my life, even as I still wait for some prayers to come true. I have been counting up the harvest of books read, of friendships strengthened by walking hard roads, of knowledge gained in lonely hours, of family loved in quiet evenings. I have found the harvest of this year to be more than I thought.

An indrawing, October of the soul - perhaps we all need it. Maybe we all need a space of quiet, even a couple of hours in which to pull up sharp from the rush of living and count up all that has grown. An hour in which to sit, aware of the minute in which we sit, be it dappled by light on a front porch, or woven with the flicker of a fireside evening, and count in slow cadence the number of graces that lighten our days. It's an exercise to bring joy, to gladden the heart, that's for sure. But I also think we need it because, well, winter is coming. Days of cold, days when the summer sun cannot break through will come to us, perhaps already have. The noticing of the goodness that persists, daily, in our lives, will bring us through the cold. We can be hale and hearty even in the winter of spirit if we gathered well and stocked up grace in the harvest time.

There is a Death Cab for Cutie song I love with these words in the chorus:

Sorrow drips into your heart, Through a pin hole, Just like a faucet that leaks, And there is comfort in the sound, But while you debate Half empty or half full, It slowly rises, Your love is gonna drown.

Drip by drop, sorrow may drown us. It is a slow rise, one we barely recognize until we can no longer breathe. Yet it is also just so with the rise of grace, like the coming out of stars by which we are able to walk the night. Drip by drop, tick by tock, small beauties, sweet words, an instant of quiet, a fragrance smelled, a dinner made a little sacred by candlelight, a book read, a song trilled, and hope becomes a mighty light that leads us through even the shadowed days. It is the counting up of this grace that I see as the inner goal of these harvest days. Grace noticed, tended, gathered, blessed, so that it may nourish me as I wait, as I yearn, as I suffer. Grief and grace, they rarely come in crashing multitudes. More often, they are single drops that gather over many months and years. We may choose which though, will fill the cup of our lives by choosing which we will count when the harvest comes, which we will notice and measure and celebrate, and store for the winter days ahead.

Sarah Clarkson5 Comments