Sunday, August 25, 2013
Three mornings last week I found myself outside before the sun crowned the treeline guarding the east. As I walked, clouds ignited from within across the entire sky. The sharp exclamations of crows and jays tore night's stillness away. The low running Lewis River burbled and sang over glowing rocks exposed by the dry summer.
The sun rose at my back. The air around me went from pink to yellow, and the music of finches and sparrows and chickadees erupted as though directed by a maestro at his podium. When I made the turn for home, light shone directly in my eyes, the impact softened and dappled by the already turning leaves of maple and hazel and cottonwood.
I greet a new group of ten-year-olds on Tuesday. Summer is over. I'm 61 and have spent more of my life in school than not, either as a student or as a teacher (which is really student, too). Because of that, fall is my new year, the time of new beginnings and fresh starts. I've always thought that was why I love this season more than any other. That and my fall birthday.
However, it's been a while since I eagerly awaited the return to a classroom. And yet this year, as summer burns out and fall's light dominates even on hot days, I've felt the pull and longing and anticipation. Not for a new school year, but for something undefinable.
On the last of the three walks, as the sun played peek-a-boo through the trees, that undefinable thing took form. In the slanted light of late summer and early fall, it's possible to see past, present and future at the same time. All three are lit equally and for a few weeks new doors feel opened so that travel from one end to the other is conceivable.
In that slanted light, the mystery that created it seems accessible and benevolent. Finding answers seems less important than basking in the wholeness of me and the moment. My past feels finished and softened in the long shadows behind. I love the girls who got me to the present with a maternal love that feels holy. The present, for once, is enough—I, for once, am enough walking alone and not alone on a late August morning. The future is lit too brightly for me to make out details, but the brightness and warmth are reassuring and comforting.
I have the thought that when the time does come for me to step finally into that ultimate light, I want it to be at this turning of the seasons when the slant shows everything from start to finish with all the shadows long and far behind.
With the freedoms of summer already fading into shadow, replaced by long days of meetings and long lists of things to do and soon long hours of accomplishing the impossible with kids, I set my face toward the slanted light that promises everything and hides nothing.