In large part, our year follows the cycles of planting, tending, harvesting, preserving, pruning and preparing the earth. We are not farmers, as my forbearers were, but we have our hillside land that fed dairy cows decades ago. Stepped and plateaued in places, we have plots full of rich earth, stirred with compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings, nutrients and manure. We do battle with neighbors’ black walnuts, which so desire to sprout in our beds, courtesy of deep roots and marauding squirrels.
Our orchard demands every spare moment in the true summer months as we capture fruit and contend with drunken bees feasting on fallen bits. Meanwhile, we also try to work on our home, yard and flower beds. We are not people who prefer an easily maintained landscape. We want native plants that will encourage pollinators.
Rounding up, we moved here nearly a decade ago. In that time, we have turned barren places into honeybee-friendly gardens. In such a short space of seasons, it seems the honeybee hives in the hills have collapsed. We are making plans for a hive of our own.
As such, with the growing season drawing to a close and the equinox having passed, we are seeking balance. A balancing time is healthy. Light and dark become equal. Outside and inside time even out. Moments for work and play yield less weariness and more readiness for living.
On these lingering warm days of autumn, we are claiming time with our daughter. We take her to see folk traditions of dance and music. We introduce her to art forms in public spaces. She sees people and ways of living that may not be our own but are part of the whole.
Part of the whole. Within the last few days, some folks remembered good St. Francis of Assisi, the man who grew up in wealth but turned to a life of poverty. His heart was one not simply for pious rituals and devotion to tradition but to mindfulness and heartfulness that all things give glory to God.
In Christian iconography, holy figures look upward with faces, arms and hands raised to the heavens to depict awareness of the Holy Spirit. In renderings of St. Francis, he is as often looking to the earth and the creatures — not in worship of them; rather, he engages with the Holy Spirit in his interactions with the beauties of the earth. St. Francis’ theology and praxis are holistic, round, encompassing.
So it was that on a warm day, we not only celebrated God’s presence at our table and engaged with art and music, we also went on a walk inside the cold water of a spring-fed creek. Our little one saw the places that were solid, covered with stones. Other places were soft, with silt and sand sliding under our toes. Sunlight glittered on the water.
Her quick eye caught flashes of small fish and water bugs. She found a crawdad patiently sunning itself on a stone. We climbed out, and I watched her run through a field. We waded back in and talked about the differences between upstream and down. We thanked God for bushes covered in berries and deep green walnuts that fell. We paused over shells for tiny mussels and freshwater snails.
Suddenly, we both fell, ending in a heap in the middle of the stream. I thanked God that my fleshy side caught the brunt and neither of us broke a bone as we twisted between the shelves of limestone. We sat in the chilly water for quite some time, recovering. We watched leaves float by, heard birds sing, imagined deer and raccoons coming for drinks in the evening. I recalled Psalm 148 as universal praise. St. Francis once said, “If we knew how to adore, then nothing could truly disturb our peace.”
Longing to breathe deeply and to walk with others as they seek to meet their longings, C.A. Rollins writes and invites you to reflect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.