Transitioning into September

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Summer is daintily putting on her September gown, donning a sheath of early winds, as golden leaves are already dropping in small doses like up-dos falling into their autumn tresses. Watching summer transition over into autumn up here in western Washington can be a difficult thing. We waited so long for this warm, bright season, and now we find ourselves bidding farewell to blue skies and longer passages of light, only to wonder when the rain will set in, those long, drippy days, bathed in grey flannel skies.

I found a gentler way to cross this threshold, however, and it includes choice words. Knowing others have tiptoed lightly into September over centuries, millennia, and written about it, for some reason, gives an ounce or two of comfort, and brings beauty to an otherwise dreary passageway.

“The Spirit of Gardening” website at http://www.gardendigest.com/quotes.htm has been just the spoonful of delight that has helped me enjoy this threshold over the last few years. Choose a month, choose a season, and you’ll be treated to snatches of poetry and yummy quotes that hold your hand when nature’s changes come.

How can you resist John Updike’s quote from his poem “September”:

“Like plates washed clean/ With suds, the days/ Are polished with/ A morning haze. 

or “Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields, The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth And you walk under the red light of fall . . .” a quote from an Autumn Equinox ritual. How can you not appreciate the turns of season more with such choicely worded offerings!

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Held: a quiet presence

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When we want to support our teen or adolescent, the three-foot wide air of independence they prefer to create as pillow around themselves doesn’t always invite the gifts of assistance and conversation we want to offer them. Rather, it creates more of a bounce house effect where we find ourselves propelled in the other direction, the closer we try to get to them. Transition is hard, and we want to honor our children’s desires for “self-actualization” as well as assist in those areas that feel far far away from any breath of that lofty idea.

The world “held” has come into my sphere over the past couple of years, and what that has come to mean to me is merely, “holding with loving intention.” I know that could sound a bit “woo-woo”, but really, when you focus on a person, child or otherwise, with confidence and love, you give off a certain quality and thickness of air as well. I interpret this space as “welcome”, “trust”, “availability”, “acceptance”. And in my experience (and believe me, there are exceptions), those moments of “holding” tend to draw in, rather than push away. They create a resting pillow rather than a bounce house.

Being “held” can be in itself the loving gift placed on their pillows or tucked into their bedsheets. It doesn’t take the place of meaningful and essential conversation, but it does blanket the spaces in-between with a warmth that oftentimes they can feel during these thresholds of their lives. . . .

Boys to men: “enough is as good as a feast”

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Sometimes a child is more ready for a small, satisfying meal than a banquet. This was true of my son at 18. A meaningful afternoon seemed a more fitting tribute to his growth and the contributions of his mentors, than a weekend away. By creating an event within the parameters of a limited time frame, it was important to think of how to pack those few hours with meaning and affirmation.

First came the guest list. By this time in his life, my son had connected with important people that were from both genders. I thought out of the box (of my usual gender specific rites of passage) and decided to choose men and women. Because he knew about the event, I checked in with him on this one, and he approved.

“What would make a rich impact at this time in his life?” I thought. What came to mind was for these loving and accomplished people to give him two things: an object that symbolizes transition, and a thought or two about who John is now and who they see him becoming. The wonderful and the wildly adventurous showed up: a carabiner that hooked meaning and connection on the side of a cliff for his step-dad and mentor, a bark covered journal brought lovingly from a friend’s native New Zealand to record John’s thoughts, an empty notebook to write down any question at this time in his life to share with a ready and willing mentor/friend, a savored movie that opened up the worlds of meaningful conversation and art and the hope it could do this for my son, too.

And that’s really all it takes. Time. Memory. Meaning. And an extension of ourselves. These are all it takes to set the table for another person’s soul.