Just to be clear, I realize it's now November. I'm taking liberties here and lumping them together. I'm writing them down as a stunning collective, because next year, it might not look so pretty. I might need to dig this from the archives and remind myself that sometimes, October feels like November, but other times, November feels like the best parts of everything.
For whatever reason, fall tends to be one of my busiest seasons, and this one was no exception. We drove out to Arkansas in what ended up being our most epic road trip to date. In the past, any discussion of 12 straight hours in the van made Cory and I shaky and tense. But the time came to give it a try, and it was everything we needed. We were more desperate to cram ourselves tightly together and stare out the windows at unfamiliar landscapes than we realized. We detoured through St. Louis and craned our necks up at the arch, then kept on walking in search of tacos until we accidentally found ourselves in a neighborhood that inspired a woman in a Lincoln Navigator to pull up beside us and say, "Can I please give you a ride to wherever you're going? You really shouldn't be out this way."
Man, if only she knew...
In Arkansas we stayed up too late eating ice cream with toppings. We started our mornings so slowly that it became impossible to distinguish them from the rest of the day. We spent almost every minute talking about things like church, politics, vocation, food, family, and what love should speak to the world around us.
Meanwhile, the kids played so hard they needed two showers a day.
The leaves were barely turning, the hills reminded us of Tennessee.
Less than a week after returning home, I flew out to Seattle and Portland. It was my first trip to that part of the country, and I still can't get over it. I spent time with newer friends, slept in their homes, traipsed with them through forests that buzzed green with life. One morning, I walked with one of them to take her kiddos to school and was struck by how ordinary and spectacular these simplest routines can be. Our neighborhoods are different. Our schools are different. The trees and even the sky are different. But the heart and the guts and the trust are very much the same. Moss lined the curbs, so I stooped down for a street-view shot. The leaves were popping, the air was chilly, the crossing guards were as loving and beloved as the one I greet each morning at the end of my street.
It was dark when I arrived home, still dark the next morning when I walked the kids to school. But somewhere around mid-morning, the sky caught up with us. It snapped awake and my neighborhood had never looked more beautiful.
My Instagram feed is jammed full of trees putting on a show. It can almost seem a little redundant. The leaves are turning! It's pretty! We get it! The thing is, we aren't really sharing our pictures for each other, are we? We're taking the time to notice, and remember. We're doing it because there's just no other way. This is the world we get to live in, and we all secretly feel like the luckiest one. We're partial to our leaves, our trees, our place and our lives, just as we should be. I wouldn't trade the walnut tree across the street for a single other walnut tree on the planet. There's just something about it.
Indeed, it's November, despite all evidence to the contrary. My gratitude meter is cranked way up. I'm tremendously thankful for my actual life even though heartbreak keeps heaving our way. It's all too easy to treat each day as if it's a marble on a tipping point - it'll either roll one way, or the other. Truth tells me it doesn't have to be that way. A moment, a day, a life shouldn't be reduced down to "bad" or "good". It's a little bit of everything. It's rain and warm air and leaves so bright and thick on the ground, it almost feels criminal to trample them. They won't be here for long, though. And if you ask them, they'll tell you - they were made for this.
I don't exactly know why the seasons teach me about God, I only know they do. This precise season, Fall 2016, is telling me to love harder. It's saying I should be hummingbird-fast with my apologies, that I should reach for my child and hug him when he's feeling and acting the most unhuggable, that I should swing my door wider and even that I should lock the door sometimes, and turn off the lights.
October was slow and fast. It's lingering, and November has lit a candle and brewed it a cup of tea. They are somehow better together, where the lines are blurred and the distinctions are lost. The combination is intoxicating, so I'll simmer a double-batch of soup and sing through the window screens. Who cares who might be listening? This is the right time to set the pace for a season of blazing kindness and world-changing, everyday love.
Are you with me?
I got to chat with one of my former pastor's on his podcast. It was really fun to talk about the turn our life took with someone who was actually there when it turned. You can listen here.