Tonight, sitting in my office after hours to finish up some administrative work, I am surprised by joy. More specifically, I’m caught off guard by the joy of a father and his little daughters picking through what is left of our pumpkins. After a week of trying to get rid of our pumpkins at a discount, we put an ad out on Craigslist advertising them for free. Because of that ad, this dad is here loading up the freebies so that he can feed his livestock, but mostly so that his girls can have an adventure with him. As they search through the pallets, moving past the rotten ones, they shriek with joy each time a good one is found. And every time that victory yell is raised, he celebrates the find. “Good job, little one! Well done. That one is perfect!”
The love in his voice, it’s enough to make my heart break wide open with joy.
Rich or poor or in between, tonight I thank God for all the marvelous dads in the world. The ones who allow themselves to see whimsy through the eyes of their children. The ones who take the time to play, to get down on their knees and wonder from the same vantage point that their kids occupy. The ones who aren’t afraid to love their children openly, loudly and with abandon. The ones who hug, and tease, and tousle hair. The ones who think their children hung the moon.
Thanks be to God for fathers such as these. They make all the difference in the world.
This spring has given me an incredible amount of joy. One moment winter clung to us with ferocity, and the next moment God brought out the highlighters… pink, purple, yellow, green – color first creeping and then exploding into the world.
I’m not always all that good at joy. But, as usual, new life came and shook me up just in the nick of time!
The day I have impatiently waited for has finally arrived: It is now consistently autumn here in the Kansas City metro area. Daily highs are in the low sixties and upper fifties…the trees are slowly changing from green to gold to amber/orange and on to brown…the townie-geese are receiving their annual out-of-town visitors, many of whom will make this their residence throughout the chill of winter… Yes, it is Autumn. Thanks be to God!
Autumn has always been my favorite season. Much of it has to do with the trees – the way they put on such extravagant dress for a few brief weeks before baring it all in the name of winter. There are so many other things that I love about the fall – and in the name of gratitude and joy-centered living, I think this is the time to list them:
In the midst of Autumn, I love:
- the crisp, clear quality of the air. It is as though one can see farther and with more precision during the months of October and November.
- pumpkins: small, big, round, misshapen, knotted, orange, white, yellowish-green, squatty…I love them all!
- autumn leaves, especially those from the many varieties of maple tree. The bright burnished reds are my favorite.
- autumn clothing: sweaters and jeans, boots and jackets, leather and wool…all are snuggly and wonderful. I’m also a fan of tweeds.
- autumn colors, filled with brightness…as though the world is steeling itself for sharp austere winter with wild displays of extravagance and warmth!
- autumn flavors: buttery squash, nuts, pumpkin, cinnamon, chocolate, mocha, spiced apple (especially the juicy honeycrisp!)
- chili. Any variety will do, though I particularly love the white chicken chilis of the world.
- the way that leaves leap from the trees and swirl down towards the earth – flurries of foliage covering everything in their path.
- the way that our dog, Shelby, seems to gain energy and puppy-ness in the fall. She scampers and prances through the leaves, picks up the scent of squirrels and is transformed into a tracker, chases the cats with renewed vigor…
- squirrels throwing acorns, hiding acorns, taunting the dog, peppering our windows and cars with a barrage of oaken projectiles…
- college football, particularly glorious purple and white TCU football! Go Frogs!
- crisp sunny days followed by chilly nights.
- concentrated celebrations: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Advent all packed into a tight succession of festival joy.
- children living out their fantasies, transformed into ninjas and heroes, princesses and rock stars, fairies and animals galore.
- warm beverages… particularly coffee, but also cocoa, tea, hot cider, hot spiced wine – all transforming the night’s chill into something magical.
My goal this autumn is to be present to the wonder of the season. Many an autumn-past has slipped by without my full attention, and I have suffered for it. Many a Fall I have been so engrossed in worry or work or worthless pursuits that I have missed out on the joy that attends this season. So, this year, I will notice. I will celebrate Autumn in all of her fullness, all of her transformative glory.
This year I will let my eyes see the presence of God in the season, and I will be grateful.