Nothing Left to Do

dryaugust

 

dryhydrangea

 

Toward the end of August I begin to dream about fall, how
this place will empty of people, the air will get cold and
leaves begin to turn. Everything will quiet down, everything
will become a skeleton of its summer self. Toward

the end of August I get nostalgic for what’s to come, for
that quiet time, time alone, peace and stillness, calm, all
those things the summer doesn’t have. The woodshed is
already full, the kindling’s in, the last of the garden soon

will be harvested, and then there will be nothing left to do
but watch fall play itself out, the earth freeze, winter come.
~David Budbill “Toward the End of August” from Tumbling Toward the End.

 

 

 

weed9715

 

I dream now of fall, wanting this stubborn summer to flame out, to leave its bare bones behind.  The last few weeks have been particularly cruel with wildfires, hurricanes, drought, sweltering heat, and flooding rains.  As if nature is not damaging enough, humanity continues to threaten humanity with local and global violence and threats of annihilation, while hundreds of thousands of refugees migrate from one poor country into even poorer countries in search of some semblance of hope and security for a safe future.

Anxiety and despair seem appropriate responses in the face of so much tragedy – they take root like weeds in a garden patch– overwhelming, crowding out and impairing all that is fruitful.  The result is nothing of value grows–only unchecked proliferation of more weeds. My worry and anguish help no one and changes nothing, serving only to hinder me from being fruitful.

It shouldn’t take bad news and disaster to remind me of what I already know:
I am not God and never will be.  He tends the garden and He pulls the weeds when the time is right.

His harvest is at hand.  Either I’m fruit or weed.

Acknowledging this is everything.  There is nothing left to do but watch as it plays itself out.

 

weedybarn

 

twinlayers

 

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Witness to Sunrise

rise1rise3rise6rise7

Written in late October 2003 after significant regional flooding

The two constant days of rain (over 3 inches total) stopped during the night and the winds calmed. It was balmy warm and I opened windows during the night because the house felt so stuffy (in mid-October yet!) Though our northern county has been declared in a state of emergency because of extreme flooding of the Nooksack River around the communities of Everson and Lynden, we are high and dry on our hill top farm that overlooks the valley that is waterlogged and trying to recover. Many of our dairy farmer friends are living on farmyards that are now islands, with impassable roads around them, and struggling to get from house to barn to cows in their hip waders.

The first hints of orange sunrise this morning began shortly before 7 AM, and rapidly stretched across the eastern horizon north and south, with the colors deepening and spreading across the cloud cover. Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters started as dark silhouettes against this palette of rich color, then began to show their crags, glaciers and new snow cover as the sun illuminated the clouds above them. The entire farm was cast in an orange glow for a few brief seconds as the color crept higher and higher up the cloud banks overhead. Then it ended as quickly as it began, lasting at most 6 minutes, giving me barely enough time to run to the top of our hill for the best view and to take these photos. Amazingly, all at once, everything returned to gray and ordinary, with no hint of the spectacular show that had just taken place. It could be dismissed so easily but must not be forgotten in our return to the routine of every breath, every step of our daily lives.

I then went back down to the barn to set the Haflingers free from their two days of barn confinement due to the extreme weather conditions we’ve had. They gratefully leaped and danced across the fields, sending up sprays of water as they splashed through new puddles and “instant ponds” created by the storm. Freedom! Fresh air! Fields of green! Joyous and oblivious to what had happened moments before. Living creatures that know only what their needs are for this moment, not concerned for what comes next or what has just been. Uncomplicated and untroubled. Not much like their human stewards at all.

This rare sunrise is encouragement after the events of the previous two days. It can only happen when the clouds become canvas backdrop on which the color is able to be painted–clouds that created havoc, floods, power outages, and injuries only hours before. Then this. Startling, wondrous magnificence beyond imagination. Grace that brings us to our knees, especially when we are mired in our gray troubled ordinariness and plainness.

Drink deeply of this. Hold it, savor it and know that to witness any sunrise is to see the face of God.