Like a Leaf

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Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
Naomi Shihab Nye

 

 

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We have had three weeks of delightfully temperate weather — days in the 70’s, nights cooling to the 50’s, gentle breezes which at times gust and shake the foliage and fruit from branches.

It feels a bit like autumn in July, with leaves loosening from tree branches, tumbling to the ground two months early. Our annual July family gathering is coming up soon, but without an older generation of birthdays to celebrate as in previous years: the last of our family elders passed on two months ago. The inevitable shifting and sifting of generations is keenly felt; we middle aged folk now bounce grandchildren on our laps rather than our own children.   The last fifteen years have changed much in our family tree.

I feel badly for the trees parting with their leaves too soon.  I am sad our family has parted with our elders before we’re ready.

I am no longer invulnerable, seemingly protected by a veneer of youth and vigor.   Located high in the canopy of branches, I may wave bravely in the breezes, dew glistening like sweat on my skin, feeling the sun on my back and the raindrops running off my leafy shoulders.   Yet my grip is loosening, slowly, surely.  My color is subtly fading.  My edges are starting to fray, and there may be a hole rent here or there.  Yes, I am feeling more and more leaf-like, knowing how far I could fall any time.

That knowledge makes all the difference.   I hang on ever more tightly while I can.

This is no time to waste.

 

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Tucked Under

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mcubin2…No one sees us go under.
No one sees generations churn, or civilizations.
The green fields grow up forgetting.

Ours is a planet sown in beings.
Our generations overlap like shingles.
We don’t fall in rows like hay, but we fall.
Once we get here, we spend forever on the globe,
most of it tucked under.
While we breathe, we open time like a path in the grass.
~Annie Dillard from For the Time Being

Although the generations are forgotten over time,
covered over, layer upon layer,
the brief time we are walking here
we leave behind a path,
whether straight or crooked,
that others may follow
to find their way.
May my path lead others
to something
worth the journey:
time well spent.

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Dreams Of Me

photo by Nate Gibson

I wonder if, in the dark night of the sea, the octopus dreams of me.
N. Scott Momaday

If I am brutally honest with myself, one of my worst fears is to have lived on this earth for a few decades and then pass away forgotten, inconsequential, having left behind no legacy of significance whatsoever.  I know it is self-absorbed to feel the need to leave a mark, but my search for purpose and meaning lasting beyond my time provides new momentum for each day.

The forgetting can happen so fast.  Most people know little about their great great grandparents, if they even know their names.  A mere four generations, a century, renders us dust, not just in flesh, but in memory as well.   There may be a yellowed photograph in a box somewhere, perhaps a tattered postcard or letter written in elegant script, but the essence of who this person was is long lost and forgotten.

It will be no different with me and those who come after me.  Whether or not remembered someday by great great grandchildren or becoming part of the dreams of creatures in the depths of the seas, I am just dust here and there is no changing that.

Good thing this is not our only home.   Good thing we are more than mere memory and dreams.  Good thing there is eternity that transcends good works or long memories or legacies left behind.  Good thing we are loved that much.

 

Any Second

photo by Josh Scholten

Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.”
Naomi Shihab Nye

Yesterday was an atypical summer day: cool wind gusts and intermittent rain showers, challenging our outdoor picnic family gathering.  It felt like autumn in July, with leaves loosening from tree branches, tumbling to the ground two months early. The gathering was in honor of the upcoming birthday of a beloved uncle, the sole survivor of five siblings, with two lost just in the last six months.  The inevitable shifting and sifting of generations is keenly felt; the middle aged folk, of which I’m a part, now bounce grandchildren on their laps rather than their own children.   The last ten years have changed much in the family tree.

I feel badly for the trees parting with their leaves prematurely.  I am sad our family is parting with our elders before we’re ready.

I am no longer invulnerable, protected by a veneer of youth and vigor.   Located high in the canopy of branches, I may wave bravely in the breezes, dew glistening like sweat on my skin, feeling the sun on my back and the raindrops running off my leafy shoulders.   Yet my grip is loosening, slowly, surely.  My color is subtly fading.  My edges are starting to fray, and there may be a hole rent here or there.  Yes, I am feeling more and more leaf-like, knowing how far I could fall any time.

That knowledge makes all the difference.   I hang on even more tightly while I can.

This is no time to waste.

photo by Josh Scholten

An Old Farmer Dies

For Harry

He knows all about the cycle of the seasons
When to plow, when to disc, when to harrow,
When to plant, when to fertilize,
When to irrigate, when to weed,
When to harvest, when to leave stubble and
When to lie fallow.

He knows to read the sky and feel the wind
When the forecast is right,
When it is just plain off,
When to quit early for the day,
When to keep going beyond dark and
When to give up and go to bed.

He knows his animals and what they need
When to bring them in, when to turn them out,
When to doctor them himself,
When to call the vet,
When to use heroics and
When to let go.

He knows his family and friends
When to tease his wife, when to hug her,
When to be tough on the kids, when to love them
When to give all he’s got, when to withhold
When to bid at the sale barn, when to just smile and
When to go home empty handed but full of stories.

He knows his Bible and his faith
When to pray aloud, when to be silent,
When to trust through hard times,
When to share abundance,
When to believe with burning heart and
When to forgive and be forgiven.

He knows his time is coming
When his worn and tired body slows down,
When he drives his pickup and takes a wrong turn,
When he shows up for chores breathing hard,
When he bids at auction just because and
When he lies down for a nap and doesn’t get up.

He lies fallow, sleeping,
Having given up and let go
To head home, without getting lost,
Stubbled, forgiven and loved,
Storing the rest of his harvest
For a new and glorious day.

Great Grandpa Harry holding baby Emerson, photo by mama Abby Mobley