We in the northwest are currently enjoying a splendid weekend of warmth and sunlight before the rainy season and cold sets in. When- and wherever we may experience what has been known as “Indian summer,* it always arrives as pure gift, or what the Bible refers to as grace, the freely given blessing from God. So we can just gratefully enjoy the unexpected reprieve from the initial chilly nip of early October and relax briefly into the wonder and magnificence of the fall landscape as the forests prepare for winter with a blush of orange and red and nestle into the green pines for comfort.
In these often stressful and uncertain times it is good, even necessary, to be reminded of the welcome occasions in our lives that also arrive unexpectedly. Although we cannot predict or count on these moments of grace, we do need to acknowledge and savor them when they arrive. I was told that during my recent illness and hospitalization I would be meeting angels along the way, and I am pleased to report that was true. Amidst the anxiety of illness there are large and small surprising kindnesses of heated blankets, attentive listening and caring, and the miracles of medical technology that guide and support our journey back to health and wholeness. I rested in constant gratitude.
The down side to the serendipitous moments of life, of course, is that they are outside our control and not likely to last. But we are capable of renewing and sustaining these unexpected moments through our own expressions of kindness and caring. It pleases the heart and soul to associate the sweetness of these glorious sunlit days with offering or receiving unexpected gifts from friends, the natural environment, or the universal sense of God’s love. We all know the blessed souls who so often seem to bring this kind of unanticipated sunshine and warmth into our lives.
And I think the gift of these special gifted moments have something to do with hope. Most of can easily identify that even when we are beset by hardship and difficulty we often discover we are also the recipients of incredible unanticipated gifts for which we had not expected to receive. The Covid epidemic, for example, with all its terrible threats of a fatal disease, social distancing, and a total disruption of our lives, provided us with so many unexpected moments of light and love within ourselves, our relationships, and with nature and life itself. Even when we may have complained, we almost always expressed some accompanying gratitude.
Yesterday Cathy and I enjoyed one of our likely last meals outside on the deck before winter. There was a moment when we simply fell quiet in response to the sheer beauty of the soft twilight sky, which she reminded me is also called the gloaming, that I associate with glory, holding, and transition. And that is how I am feeling about my life right now - and our lives as a nation in general. A sun is definitely setting not only on my aging life but on my era that has provided all matter of graces as well as all the accompanying harm to the planet and to each other.
As I close my warm and positive gratitude for my life and thoughts this evening, I am disheartened by news of yet another burst of open warfare in our world, this time between the Palestinians and Israelis. Because I am so sensitive to the horrors and pain of war, I am left with deep sadness and regret that dampens my hope for a more peaceful world. But I will also try to follow my own counsel to also believe in the unexpected and redemptive power of love in spite of it all. I ask you to join me.
* I found the term “Indian summer” has a varied etymology about why the term “Indian” has been associated with this event of nature. Although I am cautious about how it may be interpreted by our Native peoples, I choose to think of it as a positive affirmation, as a reminder of the grounding, abundance, and reverence for the earth that is the heart of indigenous spirituality.