"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

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.


Richard Hughes said...

If you can carry those thoughts and feelings with you into the classroom, the children will never forget you.

Linda Reeder said...

Well, I was in a hurry to get to some tasks this morning, after a very late start, and wanted to check in with DJan's post, but I found yours first. Now I am slowed down, in a good way, and contemplative, in a good way, and ALMOST wishing I was still greeting a new set of students in the classroom. But that slanted light of late August now shines on continued freedom for me, and that I will not surrender, even if the small feeling of melancholy of summer ending still creeps in now and then.
This is such a lovely post! I wish you much joy and success in your "impossible" tasks of the school year ahead.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Deb, you are an exceptional writer and this piece is the best of the best, but what makes me happiest is your new message of optimism and fulfillment. So glad you have reached that place and that the slanted light illuminates it for you.


Today as I read the first few lines of this post I was caught and held by the beauty of your words. From start to finish you had me.
I felt lifted up into the sky that you described. Such a talent you have and any child in your class will surely prosper.
Blessings and best of luck this year with your students. Keep writing these lovely posts for us.

DJan said...

Your gift for writing, Deb, puts me in mind of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea" -- that sort of gentle wisdom, although filtered through your own heart. I just love this, and I've read it twice already. Probably will wait a day and then read it again. I am truly blessed to know you.

Retired English Teacher said...

Blessings on you as you walk through that door to begin another year.

Teresa Coltrin said...

Beautiful writing with a feeling of peace.


kario said...

Any moment where we can find ourselves in peace and equanimity is a glorious one. I am so pleased that you continue to be able to 'check in' with yourself out in nature and communicate it to others with your writing. I know that this new group of students will bring with them unique gifts that will speak to you and that you will meet theirs with your own.


Amber said...

Hi love!
This is beautiful. I feel the sad about this change of seasons. It is very Virgo, the shift,the wrapping up of one and readying for the next. Ou are right-- it wold be the ideal time to move on in the Big Way. Lol

I hope your year is easy and fun.

Oxxo :)

lily cedar said...


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Deb. I am enjoying a period of enforced rest (see my blog) and finding how good it is to be in the slow lane. I know I will have to emerge at some point but walking along the sunlit lanes of late, by myself, no person or dog by my side, I too have wondered at the peace that comes from doing so. I shall read your post again just because it is so lovely :-)

Dee said...

Dear Deb, I am happy for you because there's a sense of contentment that threads together your evocative words. Like DJan, I am reminded of "The Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I am also reminded of lyrical poetry that draws me always to the music of the spheres. The Oneness of the Universe. That's what exceptional writing can do. Peace.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Your writing makes me think of a beautiful piece of music, Four Seasons by Vivaldi, and I envision you entering Fall in all it's glory in your life as well as your career. You are a part of that grand spiritual path and you seem to own your spot so perfectly and profoundly!
May this time be as grand as you wish it to be.
Today's post is more than words. It's music in my head and it's brilliant!!!!