After several days of dreary gray clouds, mist, and rain, clearing skies to the west allowed the golden rays of the setting sun to briefly ignite the leaves of a Burning Bush by the side of the driveway.
All around, the green leaves of summer are surrendering to the inexorable and vibrant hues of fall: yellow, red, burnt orange.
We should pause to savor this glorious display of nature. Don’t let it be a dull background to the routine of our days.
Amidst this fall’s turning leaves, the presidential candidates are crisscrossing New Hampshire. This once-every-four-year process will culminate with the election of the 44th President of the United States. He or she will assume the office almost 220 years after George Washington, our first President, was sworn in on April 30, 1789.
220 years of orderly and peaceful succession. Even during the tumultuous days before Richard Nixon’s resignation or following the contested election of 2000, I had little doubt that order would prevail, based upon our democratic principles. Given our stability, it’s all too easy to become complacent and assume our experience of the past 220 years is the norm.
Contrast this with so much of the world today: the brutal repression of the Buddhist monks by the government in Myanmar (Burma), Vladimar Putin’s Byzantine maneuvers to retain power in Russia, the equally convoluted dance between President Pervez Musharraf and former premier Benazir Bhutto to construct a power-sharing arrangement for a new civilian government in Pakistan, the continuing instabilities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, North Korea…
I am grateful to live in this country, with a stable government, where I am free to write of my displeasure to the President or to Congress, where I can march with a protest sign outside of the White House, where I need not be afraid of being carried off in the night and never seen again. I am grateful for the genius of those who codified the principles that underlie our government. We are truly blessed.
With no reason to be up and out of the house early, it’s a rare gift not to have to set an alarm. As the day breaks, I rise towards consciousness, listening for stirrings in the house. Hearing none, I drift slowly back into sleep. Strange cameo dreams inhabit this brief slumber, but no concerns, no obligations. I awake refreshed.
Astronomically, the equinox occurred earlier today, one of two times during the year when the sun is directly “above” the equator.
Translated to the personal, here in southern New Hampshire the weather defined perfection: sunny, blue skies, low humidity, warm in the sunshine and cool in the shade, a noticeable breeze rustling the leaves.
All of the senses could savor this day: the sight of blue sky and trembling leaves in the golden sunlight, the sound of the rustling leaves, the feel of cool breezes skimming along the skin, the smell of dryness, the sweetness of a neighbor’s beech plums ripened by the summer sun.
Let me pause and be grateful for the gift of a perfect day. It won’t be long before the warmth gives way to the cold breath of winter.
This blog reflects my intent to develop a disciplined spiritual practice of being grateful, of recognizing those gifts that come each day, yet are often overlooked in the busyness and routine of life.
Since a blog is a public expression, accessible by anyone on the globe with an Internet connection, this is an open meditation. I invite you to join me in reflecting upon the many gifts of life; I hope this will aid your discernment.