By Susan G Parcheta
The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over. ~ Aesop
Before Hurricane Sandy took a sharp left turn into the New England states, I’d been thinking about autumn in the traditional sort of sentimental way we tend to think about autumn. Specifically: its beauty.
There is a beauty to each season. There’s a cyclical beauty that resonates internally, as we look forward to the transforming of one season into the next.
One day, I’m thinking about the wonder of the autumn winds on a day when the last remnants of leaves flutter down from trees. Always, it’s the same transformational time. Autumn winds blow. Leaves fall. Leaves pile up on yards and walkways. Kids jump in them. Dads and moms rake them up and blow them away.
It’s a ritual that anyone who grows up in a state with seasons finds emblazoned in their memories -- enough that they might be tempted to send a box of autumn leaves (as someone I know did )to a transplanted friend in a far southern state.
On this day, the sound of a warm autumn breeze caresses my heart, as the gentle wind touches my face. Shuffling along through crunchy layers of leaves on walkways perks my spirit. The rhythmic flow of my feet swishing in leaves comforts. The fragrance of autumn fills my soul with gratitude. I breathe easy; I’m relishing the out-of-doors; life is good.
I find that I’m experimenting with tuning in more to the nuances of the seasons. I’m learning to appreciate the singular beauty that each season offers in succession: Autumn, winter, spring, summer.
Autumn, in particular, heralds traditions. Holidays loom brightly on the calendar’s horizon. Family and friends become the focus. My heart begins to move inward, in anticipation of the giving and receiving that this autumn cycle – this thanks-giving time of year -- activates in me.
There is a power in each season, which I long to discover and to harness in my daily life. Going with the flow of seasons, swishing through the leaves…gracefully into years, into decades, into a lifetime: I think about all that.
But wait. That is the sentimental me talking. What if autumn winds of change come in as a Hurricane Sandy, with unimaginable fury? I’m not on the East Coast, but I know people there. I watch the news accounts; and I’m stunned. I’m stunned by the visual effects of this monster mega storm and its aftermath -- its destruction and disruption.
I stop in my tracks -- humbled by the courage of the souls in the midst of this fury, when I suffer only a day’s power outage from the backside winds a thousand miles inland. That night I hear the winds howling in blizzard mode. I’m wondering -- of all the storms I’ve been through, how would I have the resilience to navigate a Sandy?
Just as I think I have it figured out -- this acceptance of seasonal change and the gifts that it brings-- Sandy or a Katrina comes along and changes things.
Sometimes, we’re positioned in the face of the storm. Life becomes a crescendo to ride. We might make it bravely through the peak, but then the aftermath gets us, bringing us to our knees. It’s not an amusement park ride; the amusement park disappeared.
Where’s the gift in that?
We feel like we’re in the midst of a movie, but who’s directing this epic? We hope against hope that we’ll wake up in the morning and discover it was all a dream. We wish we might reel it back to the day we were happily swishing through the leaves.
Where do we get the power…the resilience to keep on keeping on?
As I write this, my favorite baseball team, the Detroit Tigers – when within the realm of possibility to win the World Series – felt the cold winds of Sandy brewing out east. Meanwhile, another giant storm came along, the San Francisco Giants, and swept them back to think about next year.
On the eve of the 2012 election for president of the United States, the outcome is too close to call. Hurricane Sandy changed the game plan for this election in the minds of many. But did it really? The days after the monster storm will play out, and so will the voting.
As the little girl in that viral You Tube video sobbed to her mom about Mitt and Barack battling over the airwaves, we were right there with her. Soon it will be over, her mom assured her. What a political mega storm. We’re all waiting for it to be over.
Like Sandy, it will crush some who’ll wake up wondering if they’re dreaming. What kind of movie will this be? What kind of nation will we be? What kind of citizens will we be?
Some of us will feel the storm took a sharp left turn and left us awash. Some of us will be glad the storm missed us. Or did it? Either way, we’re all affected. Either way, we must individually find a way to step back into the beauty that is our country.
At least, that’s my wish for us. As author Richard Bach, puts it, You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.
May we all stand upright, with courage, after the storm. May we embrace these winds of change, and imagine the possibilities. May true transformation take place this season, amidst abundant thanks-giving.
(Pub Oct 4, 2012 at The Livingston Post)