I had no idea what was in store for me as I stepped out of bed this morning. I did not anticipate the blessing, I could not have imagined this glory. This, a golden, stolen, sun-soaked November day. The juxtaposition of brown crunching under our feet as we peel off layers of clothing, freeing limbs to run and climb and stretch forth in the warm air. I hold my breath, want to make time stop, to listen, see these moments for what they are: endless, but delicately finite. This morning’s strong battle of wills fades from my consciousness, the fresh air wrenching tension from my shoulders, the breeze reminding me of my own breath: inhale, exhale.
Some gifts are easy to recognize: they come wrapped with bows, handed to us graciously, enthusiastically. We pull off the paper, eager to experience some goodness. Today is one of those gifts: the trees are decorated in their finest glory, brilliant reds and oranges calling us into their presence. This day was enthusiastically given, I know, without disguise. As we set our clocks back, darken our evenings, look towards our hibernating routines of winter, I know that the sun is bending earthward today, lighting her beams on our backs, our faces, to remind us to be thankful for this time before.
The Eldest ran and jumped and did things I didn’t know him capable of. He is athletic, instinctually strong and agile, like his father. His darkening locks fall shaggy in his face; he pauses by my side for a sip of water, brushing them out of his eyes. He’ll tell me later: “Mommy, I need a haircut.” He runs back to join his friends, bodies falling on one another with peals of laughter, chasing across the playground. He has heart-ties, strong and deep: these friendships are formative, lasting.
The Littlest has been content to keep company with the adults, sharing her snacks with the smallest amongst us, tender in her care. But she watches: her eyes following the bigger kids until she feels brave enough to join. And when she does, her tenacity takes her to the edge, pushes my comfort level as I run wildly after her on playground equipment too high, too big for her tiny arms and legs to master yet.
And after, quiet settles on this house, because not even these strong bodies can maintain this pace. Pungent autumn air trickles through unexpected open windows. I move swiftly past the laundry whispering my name, knowing the gift of this quiet is mine, too.
When the house awakens, darkness will threaten, the golden moment lost. Chores will take precedence, routines of evening will creep in, demands of the day threatening to rob us of our gratitude, our peace. But I will know this gift; I will tuck it into the creases of my heart pocket, procure it the middle of those other moments, to remember, to give thanks.
I doubt that there is such a thing as a measure of spirituality —but if there is, gratitude would be it. Only the grateful are paying attention. They are grateful because they pay attention, and they pay attention because they are so grateful.” (~Barnes, The Pastor as Minor Poet, quoted by Douglas Wilson).