October startles me with its coming. How did September slip by so fast, so lovely, so delightfully fall-ish? I wanted it to last a little longer.
I had garden tasks to complete, projects that needed to be checked off the list, and alas, they remain undone. What am I to do but look around and see the beauty of summer past and welcome autumn in all its glory. I want to put on a pot of pinto beans. I want to make vegetable soup. I want to make pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin everything.
A volunteer vine grew in the flower bed by the back deck and I love surprises. Watching and wondering what might grow from the big yellow blooms was pure anticipation. Lo and behold (such an old and beloved expression), by summer there were small greenish gourd-like fruits scattered on the lawn as the vine traveled unhindered. The lawn mower graciously cut around, giving it room to thrive. Last week I picked nine small pumpkins, fruit from the birds’ labor and not mine.
Even now the trees are showing signs, leaves tinging toward gold. The sycamore in the side yard shows off its large brown leaves, some already fallen to the ground. I feel it in the air when Maisie and I walk. The clouds look different to me. The smell of chimney smoke and fire pits creates a longing for roasted marshmallows and hot dogs.
I’ve looked forward to Autumn. It is putting away the harvest season, sharpening garden tools, opening windows as fresh air fills the house. I prepare to bring in tender plants to over-winter in the garage and exchange light summer clothes for snuggly ones with boots.
As I pull out flannel PJs from storage, extra blankets and a warm sweater, summer’s passing settles. There are projects still undone in the gardens, dangling on lists in my bullet journal. That bothers me, the one who wants to complete the task and give it a flourishing check mark. Trying to catch up last week, I labored long outside and felt the ache in my body.
Then I let this thought take root: I cannot get it all done. Some of it will have to wait for next year, next spring. And Lord willing, it will begin anew once more. All is well.
Thoughts of the coming season can weigh heavy too. When I talked with my cousin this week, she felt it. Memories of death and loved ones we held dear, holidays approaching where a place setting will be empty, and we wonder how to walk forward with our heavy hearts, remembering the joy of their lives mingled with ours while we miss them terribly.
We live and love while it is day, as the Lord gives opportunity. At least I hope I do. Responsibility and tasks can drain time, as we fill our lives with more. More stuff to care for, more devices to take our attention, more places to go, more events to attend. More is not always a blessing.
I think of my younger self when life seemed simpler. We sat on porches and broke green beans or shelled peas. We watched our children play in the yard with their cousins. We lingered long in conversations over cups of hot coffee or iced sweet tea and home-cooked meals. We talked, in person, face to face.
Sweet William and I are blessed with friends of all ages, and I am always amazed that they want to spend time with us. I thank God for this gift. In light of eternity, time spent with people is of more value than what I can accomplish, my to-do tasks, or things that show up on my lists. The check marks are worth little in comparison.
Our gracious Father gives us all the same number of hours each day, and there is always time to do His will. Jesus is my example of One who used His short span on the earth to finish the assignment He was given, making the most of every encounter with another. Choosing rightly becomes the challenge for a task-oriented person like me. Listening to the Spirit’s direction and prompting, saying yes to an opportunity to serve, accepting an interruption as a God-appointment, and laying aside my agenda for a higher purpose – that is my calling.
I will leave this earth with tasks uncompleted. I may have a list to my dying day. The house will need repairs, the gardens will still be in progress. The things I wanted to accomplish will wait. And Lord willing, there will be a Spring Eternal where life, real life, will begin anew.
If I hear the Living Lord say, “You did what I asked. You loved those I sent your way,” it will be enough. All will be well.