Tuesday, October 4, 2011


: the season between summer and winter comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of September, October, and November or as reckoned astronomically extending from the September equinox to the December solstice

There are many things I love about autumn:  cooler temperatures, football, wearing boots, making soups, drinking hot tea, pumpkins, apples.  I also love what it heralds:  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas.  While Halloween doesn't particularly excite me, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas are some of my favorite times of year.  I love the way thankfulness and looking back on a year of things to give thanks for ushers in the hushed anticipation of Advent, the waiting to celebrate our savior's birth and the waiting for his return.

Our lives have a rhythm to them, but each year our family continues to evolve.  I'd love nothing more than for fall Saturdays to be about pumpkin pancakes, raking leaves, reading books, watching football and smelling chili simmering on the stove.

Instead, our Saturdays are packed full with ballet classes, art classes and Nutcracker rehearsals.  I had somehow forgotten in the two years since A last danced in The Nutcracker just how time consuming it is.  Starting in October, she essentially dances all day on Saturdays, with an hour or two lunch break.  Mornings are for instructional classes at her regular studio near our home and afternoons are spent learning how to be a Native American Soldier (her role in this year's performance) at a studio across town.

I'm thankful A has the opportunity to participate in a ballet performed by professionals and run by a professional organization.  She has learned a great deal from previous participation and she will gladly sacrifice whatever time necessary to do it again.  Truth be told, she does not even see it as a sacrifice.

Yet I choose the word sacrifice intentionally.  The things I give up seem petty to list: time to curl up with a book on Saturday afternoons, weekend days spent at home rather than in the car, lazy days.  But I am learning a lot about myself through the Enneagram study and I recently heard Richard Rohr (on the CDs we listen to) talk about how people of my type are the most frequently occurring type in undeveloped countries.  He said when you visit Africa, you're struck by the fact that almost everyone is a 9.  Sadly, I do not live in one of those countries.  I don't live in a culture that encourages - or allows - moving at your own pace.

A friend in this study keeps reminding our group that the point of the Enneagram is to learn compassion - on ourselves and others.  So I am trying to accept that part of what is wearying about this fall is simply that I live in a world that is not set up for someone like me.  Frankly, that's a good reminder no matter your Enneagram type.  None of us are made for this world.  None of us are permanent residents here.  It is good and right that we should long for autumn to be a season that ushers in the ultimate Advent of God's kingdom come.

But how to live in the here and now?  The solution is not to give up on living our lives here - whether our lives be in their own spring, summer, fall or winter.  I think the answer lies - seemingly simply - in living in the present.  I don't mean that glibly.  I mean being fully present and not wishing away October Saturdays for January Saturdays that are colder, but less cluttered with activities.  I mean not dreaming wistfully about the good old days before Saturday ballet even existed for our family.

Tonight's dinner provided a good opportunity to practice the discipline of staying present.  J called 5ish to tell me he was heading south (away from home) for an afterwork meeting.  While he indicated he would likely be home at a normal time, I was doubtful.  I proceeded to cook our dinner of apple and pear pork tenderloin, carrot souffle, brown rice and edamame.  When everything was ready, the four of us (minus J) sat down to eat.  It felt like a lovely fall meal.  The girls were delightful.  This was their first encounter with edamame, so I'd given them very small portions.  A & B both went back for seconds.  Their willingness to try the food I put before them made the effort of cooking their dinner feel more than worth it.

Here's the thing: I could have been upset that J missed dinner with us.  He had a work event last night.  I have a contemplative prayer group tomorrow night.  But I didn't let disappointment rob me of the now.  I rested in the moment of dinner at the table with my daughters happily gathered around me.

I do love that autumn points us to what comes next.  But I want to learn to savor what it offers in and of itself.

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