Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Summer's End

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  
2 Corinthians 4:16 (Message Bible)

If one were to sit at a table on my deck last week, sipping early morning coffee and soaking in the beauty of the forest, there were hints here and there that the seasons are changing.  Oh, from a distance the forest is green, lush, and beautiful.  Except for two weeks in October, the trees are at their most beautiful at the end of August... or so it seems from my view on the deck.

However, all is not perfect in this fallen of worlds.  The same weeks upon weeks of rain that resulted in a lush forest played havoc with my garden.  Yes, the photo above is my garden now a center of weeds so high that to enter, one must be certain to wear heavy shoes, long slacks, and bring their garden gloves.  For the heavy rains disintegrated the thick plastic landscape fabric covering the rows and caused weeds and brush to grow instead.

There are other winks and witnesses that the season is ending soon.  The deck herbs and flowers look a little ratty when seen close up.  The grass is growing far less than just a few weeks ago.  The black walnuts are once again raining onto our roof as hungry squirrels make their way to the very end of tree limbs, causing the ripe nuts to fall on the ground and our roof.  It occurs every year and I still jump the first few times I hear the now familiar thumps overhead.

Then there is the raining of the leaves from trees already discarding their spring and summer wardrobe.  It is August and my deck is covered with leaves.  Only the beginning of about a gazillion or so to come.  Such is life when one lives surrounded by forest.

Sometimes I feel like a late summer day for there is still life and breath and creative thoughts and if one looks from a distance then all is well.  But come a little closer and you will find the clues that the season is not as lush as it once was for there are prescription bottles, insulin needles, a pillow on the sofa for afternoon rests or naps, shoes for feet that are numb, and the boundaries are far more limited now.

I walked in my bedroom last week to fold laundry and noticed the basket sitting on the floor beside my bed.  For in that basket are CDs.  Those I listen to often are next to the CD player in the kitchen. There was a sadness when I looked at that basket for I haven't listened to any of that music for about a year and I like all of it.

A sense of the passing of our hours and days and weeks and years came over me.  That knowledge that the train of time is quickly passing one depot after another and racing toward the destination at breakneck speed.  Where has time gone?

I'm at home most days and there are still books unread and letters not written and too many podcasts to ever hear and music sitting in a basket by my bed neglected in the many other options vying for my attention.

Time races.  Seasons change.  Good things not accomplished.  People we don't see again.  The weeds of the everyday essential work overtake the goals and aspirations left undone in our rush toward the end of the race.

I suppose that is part of the brief sense of panic that day as I looked at the music in the basket on the wood floor.  That realization that our Everyday had better reflect that which God intended from the beginning of the world.

Our decisions become our day.  Our minutes become our life.  How we choose to spend our time will be reflected in all of Eternity.  We have this one life and it goes by far faster than we thought possible at age eighteen.

But you know, Summer's End is not all that bad.  I am always ready for it as I don't care for hot weather and humidity... and this year with all the rain the bugs have attacked every time we left the front door to walk down the gravel lane to get the mail.

It is much the same with getting older if we look at it the same way.  Just yesterday evening, I sat in the cozy hunter green overstuffed chair in the Study reading a short story by Rosamunde Pilcher while my husband watched preseason football in the living room (his beloved Chicago Bears vs. the Colts).

The sun was setting and a breeze blew in through the open window.  The lights behind the chair reflected on the rest of the room and made it look very pretty and warm and cozy.  I have said before that the Study is God's gift for the Empty Nest Syndrome.  ;)

I've accepted this new season of life and learned that by doing so, the good stuff that comes along with it can be appreciated.  Looking back is only good once in awhile as we have fond memories of days gone by.  It is for this season we are to live.  And I thank God for each new day as it is a gift not to be taken lightly. Whatever our age...

I think perhaps the best way to enjoy each new season and most especially the latter seasons of life is this... to fully recognize this is but the Shadowlands (as Lewis calls this life).  This is not the end.  I think he calls it the "cover page" of our real life.

For there will be a time and a day and a Forever to do that which we long to do here and for some reason or another... age or budget or small children or old parents or health or all kinds of things...  we will wait to enjoy fully and perfectly in Eternity.

We are pilgrims and strangers only passing through... doing our best to leave this world a better place because we lived but fully realizing this is not our home.

In the meantime, I will embrace each day for what He provides... and take back my garden after the hard frosts and freezes of late autumn.  I hope.


Cheryl said...

This may well be my favorite of all of the hundreds of posts of yours that I've read over the years. It's beautiful, Brenda.

Ann said...

What a beautiful reminder of the important things of life. How we get caught up in the busyness of today and fail to see the big picture. A good reminder also of where the priorities of my life should be ... I know where they should be but that doesn't mean I'm always doing what I know. The realities of being human ...

Vee said...

In these Shadowlands few things are ever as we imagined and so often something of a disappointment. I tell you what, Brenda, it is never a disappointment to read your encouraging words. I am sorry that health issues are, too...and the garden looks more like a jungle than anything. Good things are coming...oh, yes, they are! (I am pulling my terribly disappointing zucchini to plant two cheap mums as soon as the heat abates.)

Mary M said...

Beautifully said, Brenda. You have such a gift with words and thank you for sharing that gift with us.

The Journey said...

Wow, you have been reading my mind. Still not quite finished cleaning out my craft room- I think it will be never ending project- refining what I want to do - I've too many projects-
wishing one could define more in detail what they wanted to do earlier in life.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for sharing a post to ponder. Now that we've entered our "golden years" we are defintely in a new season of our lives. Both my hubby and I notice our reduced energy and stamina levels. I tweaked my back several weeks ago and notice it's taking a lot longer to recoupe than I anticipated! Sigh....but, thankfully, it is slowly getting better! I may be getting older on the outside, but inside, however, I am still becoming who I was created to be! God isn't finished with me yet! I'm still learning and growing and enjoying life as much as I'm able. I don't think of myself as "old" just yet! Hopefully, I'll be around for a while, as I haven't been blessed with grandkids yet! I hope I won't be too old to enjoy them whenever they do arrive!
Laura C.(WA)

Nanna Chel said...

Brenda, that is beautiful. As I get older I have the same thoughts myself. We really need to enjoy the season we are in don't we?

Anonymous said...

How I agree with the other comments--such a beautiful post. I am now in that late season of life--seems like I don't know how it got here so quickly--where have all the years gone? In my mind, I still feel young--it's just that my body doesn't want to cooperate the way I want it to. Thank you for your beautiful expressions that I can't put together in words as you do. Blessings to you always, Sharon D.

Dawn E. Brown said...

What a beautiful way to put life. Absolutely love this. You have a great attitude,and you have blessed me. In Christ, Dawn E. Brown

Deb J. in Utah said...

This is a lovely, thoughtful post. Life changes, doesn't it?! A great reminder that we need to spend our hours and days on the things that are of most worth to us - faith, family, friends. Thank you for this post.

Terra said...

Your post is a good reminder that we are strangers and pilgrims passing through.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I agree Brenda. Time flies, and we find our self in a new season in the blink of an eye. Every year on our anniversary, I wonder where all the years went. So I purposely look back and see all the years of marriage and life and raising children and home education. I do this so I can 'see' what I've spent my years doing.

I've slowed down, my body aches more and I remember your motto of bit by bit for doing stuff and that is what I do on those 'days.'

Beautiful, wise words friend!


Mary Jane said...

Dear Brenda I was very upset after reading your post. I find the way you live your life admirable. What is the cause of your feet going numb? You have spoken a couple of times in your blog about moving to a condo. Do you think you would like to do this now? You could continue your gardening with container gardening. I hope you will consider what is best for you. Take care of yourself.

Judy said...

I think you might enjoy the following thoughts by Henry Van Dyke. They are along the line of what you say over afternoon tea today. As I age, and the need for acceptance of things as they are, rather than as one might have dreamed they would be, I find these words increasingly precious.
"Resignation is the courage of old age. It will grow in its season, and it is a good day when it comes to us. Then there are no more disappointments; for we have learned that it is even better to desire the things that we have than to have the things we desire. And is not the best of all our hopes - the hope of immortality - always before us? How can we be dull or heavy while we have that new experience to look forward to?
Thanks as always for the gift of your 'ponderings.'

Anonymous said...

oh how you often speak to just what is going on in my life...thank you Brenda.

Heather LeFebvre said...

Yes, I'm trying to accept that fact that we are about to change seasons, but I saw the first tinges of fading green, yellowing on the trees at Eagle Creek this week. My garden is filled with browns, yellows, and oranges -- not all the pastels that are my favorite. But I am excited about this cooler weather and lovely autumn days.

PJ Geek said...

I resonate with this post. I'm but nearly 53 but I do feel it. I left a post about the book "she" by Katherine Tucker Windham. I think you would enjoy. I too have a basket of music that I've only started using and a mindful coloring book and they bring me joy.