Autumn grace

Backpack-wearing students once again stroll the streets to their bus stops or classrooms. School buses roll the highways. Once more I walk alongside golden fields and amongst trees blushing red and gold; friend, grandchild or dog keeping pace.

I love nearly everything about September. Always have. It tickles the senses. I thought about that a few days ago as the Preacher and I worked in our yard. He weed-whacked hedges and neat edges around bushes and rocks. I pruned our lilacs, remembering their sweet fragrance a few short blinks ago; ruing each severe cut at first, but knowing the necessity.

“To prune lilacs,” gardening experts say, “cut them back by up to a third shortly after they’re done blooming, when they set their blossoms for the next year.”

Oops. “Never let Kathleen loose with a pruner or chain saw,” the Preacher has said often. As a result of attempting to even things up, our twelve foot pink beauty now stands around four feet, a good two thirds less. Only a sorrowful cluster of erect bare limbs remains. But I’ve slaughtered that bush before. It forgave me and came back beautifully, though it didn’t bloom again for several years.

Who doesn’t love autumn? Sampling the gifts of gardens and fields. Sniffing the fragrance of fallen crabapples. Meandering through a corn maze.  Feeling calluses build during the binding up of summer’s looseness; the putting a place to rest for a season. Harvesting. Raking. Covering. Mulching. Tightening, straightening and pruning. 

I’ll soon retrieve our fall decorations from their hiding places in basement boxes and bins, anticipating the upcoming Thanksgiving gathering. Our large family (when they all come) crowds round a very long table, holding hands to sing grace. (We do this every year, sometimes posting the video on Facebook—a misleading Rockwellian moment of peace before everyone opens their mouth to either talk or eat (or, in the interests of honest reporting, complain about the Brussels sprouts or raisins in the coleslaw). Chaos ensues. Sweet moments, says the tongue in my cheek. I wouldn’t change one. The sturdiest memories are woven with both warp and weft, I remind myself.

I write from Saskatchewan, mid-Canadian prairie. Winter could be on us within a matter of weeks. Everyone knows that, a knowing softened by the hint of Christmas in the air, the promise of a time devoted to generously, purposefully giving back to God. To loved ones. To our desperately needy world.

The earth will burn one day, the Bible says. Jesus will return and justice will finally reign. But today, like the leaves, I fall softly into fall. Tumble into the lap of grace, grateful for God’s shifting seasons that have always come and always gone.  Grateful for the lingering opportunity to share love and truth with those around me, leaning on God’s Word and this promise in Genesis 8 verse 22, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Who let Kathleen loose with the pruner? Ah well…this pink lilac always returns.

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