tea and flower pen
Last night a wind blew in from the north, leaving frost on the fields across the road and a nip in the air. I have the day to myself, and plan to sit inside with a cup of tea. This autumn afternoon invites a time of prayer, a good novel, and maybe even a nap.

2012-10-16 15.54.53But the glorious golden maple trees surrounding the house beckon, waving in the wind. It’s sunny on the side porch, so I join the cat, sound asleep on one of two wicker chairs. Cuddled in my fleece jacket, I plunk down in the chair next to the cat, thinking to meditate on the sight of leaves spiraling from the trees.

My ever-present cell phone rings. I answer. A friend in need. I spend 30 minutes helping as best I can, which entails several trips in and out of the house, looking for phone numbers, paper, pen, etc. That business finished, I sit down again. I sigh. Just looking at these trees could be a burning bush experience, I think, if I’d only let myself relax and enjoy.

The phone rings again. I answer. My mother, in need. We talk a few minutes. I try to reassure her that she’s living in the right place. That it’s okay to be 80. That life is still good. I say “I love you,” and hang up. The golden leaves shudder and shake in the wind, whispering a secret language all their own.

An hour has passed by now, and I am still as wound up as when I sat down. The cat, on the other hand, has not moved a muscle. Soaking up the sun, he breathes deeply, his chest rising and falling, rising and falling. I take a deep breath, intent upon soaking up this beauty like a sponge, and bottling it up in a jar for the cold, dark days of winter.

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How can I offer Cloudland as a place of rest and refreshment if I can’t slow down to enjoy it myself—if I continue playing the role of Martha—cooking and cleaning and making sure everything is “just so”? I am so aware that I have not been choosing the better portion that Mary chose, sitting at Jesus’ knee.

This place is perfectly situated to watch the seasons unfold—to watch as seed is planted in the ground; to witness it grow, day by day, from tender shoot to hundreds upon hundreds of acres of corn and soy; to partake in the harvest in the fall at the farmer’s market uptown.

Cloudland sits on the highest point of Butler County, where the observant can watch the weather unfurl, great clouds roiling and black on the horizon, or the sun rising, a red rubber ball trailing ribbons of pink across the horizon. And on days like today, cloud shadows play tag across the fields.

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The cat’s chest expands, contracts. Expands, contracts. My breathing finally slows down to match. Shadow falls upon the trees and barn in front of me, the sun racing ahead of the clouds to shine bright on the maple-covered ridge across the way. My spirit expands at the sight.

Last night a wind blew in from the north, leaving frost on the fields across the road and a nip in the air. The brisk temperatures promise winter is close behind. Part of me grieves, knowing that all will be brown and bare in just a few weeks. But another part of me deep-down-knows that the coming season holds its own richness. That winter wheat planted today in the fields around us will be unfurling, unfolding in the dark days ahead. That God will be at work even in His hiddenness.

For this kind of deep-down-knowing, I need to leave my cell phone behind; slow down, like this cat asleep in the chair next to me; inhale, exhale; measured breaths seeped in prayer that join in the great hymn of praise going up all around me, at all times, in all seasons, in this place called Cloudland.


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