"Well, the sun's not so hot
in the sky today
And you know,
I can see summertime slipping on
A few more geese are gone,
a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft
as a feather in a featherbed…"
- James Taylor "September Grass"
Today was one of those September Grass days. The sun wasn't so hot, the air was cool, and the sky was as blue as a robin's egg.
I was thinking about this all day in light of a comment Suzette shared in our worship circle last night. Suzette is from Maine. Ahh… Well not so quick, she and her children have recently relocated to St. Louis. She explained that some folks have questioned why she would have left a wonderful home in a beautiful coastal village for a Midwestern city.
Suzette went on to share that she and her family had felt divinely guided along each step of this relocation, and how they had experienced prayer-based consensus regarding their motives…and the logistics…of their move.
Then she told a story about a friend who, when living in a prairie state, learned to look at the wide blue western sky as his "ocean"….and how on a drive through suburban St. Louis that afternoon she had realized that her new city was just as "beautiful" as her previous location.
I loved this story. I have often lost this chord of deep satisfaction with the current geographical details of where we live…usually after a trip home to Colorado…and bemoaned the fact that I am "here" and not "there". So, this afternoon I decided to go in search of my own beautiful St. Louis. Jeff's schedule included helping coach the girls' soccer team and I chose to tag along.
Once there, I grabbed my CrazyCreek ground chair, my car quilt and my books and headed to a sun-drenched patch of grass under the wide canopy of a huge oak tree. I scooched myself into a V-shaped space between the knees of two large roots and leaned my head against the warm bark of her trunk.
The air was cool enough that I needed to tuck my quilt around my knees and wrap my large scarf around my shoulders but it was glorious. Dappled sunlight fell through the leaves and onto the pages of my book. Its warmth sank deeper and deeper through the layers of scarf and quilt until I felt it to the core of my bones. I closed my eyes and let the golden late-afternoon light bathe my face in a flush of sunset pink.
The sounds of coaches, my husband, daughters, and their friends softly reminded me of all that I am blessed with. The grass between my fingers was so soft to the touch, that I couldn't help but recall Mary Baker Eddy's statement:
"Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light.
The grass beneath our feet silently exclaims, "The meek shall
inherit the earth." The modest arbutus sends her sweet breath
to heaven. The great rock givesshadow and shelter. The sunlight
glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides
into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the
landscape, blesses the earth."
I felt like I was in the holiest of sanctuaries. Right here in the middle of St. Louis. Trees, grass, sky, air, roots, shadow, shelter…the sounds of my family and friends…those things are right here. Right where God has sent me to be…today.
I am loving St. Louis, and I am loving autumn. Something in me begins to quiet when I can feel the sun on my face through cooler, crisper air. There is a gentling to my inner wrestling…the voice is more kind, more full of mercy and encouragement. It is almost as if this inner voice knows that we are heading towards Thanksgiving and a time of harvest…the time for gathering the substance of a tare-scattered growing season. It is almost as if there is foreknowledge that we are, indeed, swelling towards a season of Christ-birthing in our lives. Whatever it is, I am grateful to have discovered it right here in the Midwest this year.
My very soul is wedded to it,
And if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth
Seeking the successive autumns."
- George Eliot
Photo credit: Dwight Oyer 2003