Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome Fall (Goodbye Summer)

I know there are four seasons each year, but for some reason I tend to break the year into thirds. It's probably because it can keep snowing into May in Colorado. But my four-month groupings are January through April - winter; May through August - summer; September through December - fall/Christmas.

I know. I left out spring. In Colorado, spring is hit or miss. This year it was a miss. We went right from winter to summer. I have no idea why I think of the year in thirds, but I do. These are the transition points in my life. The times I can package and review and then plan for the days ahead.

I'm in that packaging up place. Looking at summer and reflecting. Frankly it was a tough summer. Todd transitioned out of inner city ministry and waited. We waited on "next." I was sick most of the summer and in my tough-to-diagnosis illness I was miserable and lonely.

This summer was all about transition. Leaving behind and living hopeful. Always hopeful.

So now we are in September and I can feel the pull into autumn and the holiday season (well, not that just yet). I'm hopeful for cooler days. I'm hopeful that life will become cooler as well.

I don't know what you do in transition - whether it's simply the seasonal kind or the tough as nails kind that has you keeling like you're adrift at sea - but I clean, and ponder, and clean some more, and ponder some more.

The cleaning is all about control. I know this from experience. I've been doing it since I was a child. When life seems out-of-my-control I reach for something to regain my grip. Cleaning. Simple as that. Yet there was more to it this time...I was drowning in stuff collected. Cleaning has become more like purging. A possessions cleanse. It's just as unpleasant as fasting. Denial. Letting go.

And then there is the pondering. Here's what I'm thinking about:

  • How can I apprehend more and more of grace? I am realizing more and more that grace is everything. I have a tendency to strive for perfection. Truth be told its my cheap attempt at protecting myself from being hurt. I can tell you it doesn't work but that hasn't stopped me from trying. And I feel inordinately frustrated that at 53 I am not better. Seriously. When does a person stop struggling with the same issues? I might as well be 15 some days. But as I have pondered grace I am realizing it is everything. My personal improvement projects are a drop in the bucket; by grace alone I will cross that finish line. 
  • What does a real friend look like? Oh so much pondering on friendship this summer. What I am looking for, and in, friends in my life? What am I offering others in friendship? I have spent so much of my adult life working ridiculous hours and top that off with introvert tendencies, well it makes for a mess when it comes to friends. I don't want a tone of friends (well actually I do), but I want rich real friends; friends I can be myself with; friends where they initiate as often as I do; friends who check in when you withdraw. For many reason, I am deep into pondering this potent topic.
  • What is going on inside of me that I have so much "stuff" and that apparently I keep buying more? Ah, this is a tough one. There are patterns I am seeing in my life that are not acceptable to me when it comes to stuff. Time to reduce and plan for than next stage of life that will have us downsizing just about everything. And while I'm in a state of purge, I'm also considering what heart-issues have propelled me to "need" so much stuff. And I know the stuff is about something that has less to do with their intended purpose, and more to do with a gaping hole in my heart. Ouch. So much more pondering to do on this one.
  • What does it mean to live a life of generosity? I want to be defined by generosity. Not just money and stuff, but generosity of spirit and heart. A person who generously forgives and gives second (and third and fourth) chances; who generously gives time; who generously shares talent and capability. It is the opposite of grudges and bitterness and hurt feelings - those tend to be things that withhold and hold tight. Generosity is expansive. I have been given much and I want a life defined by generosity.
So now I enter September. Still pondering, still cleaning, still pruning and purging. It is all purposeful. It is all hopeful. 

Welcome fall...I want gratitude to define this season. I hope it does in your as well.

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