This week brought the official end of summer and start of autumn to my area. While running, biking, and working in the yard this week, I noticed the leaves of the walnut, buckeye, dogwood, and wild cherry trees starting to turn color and fall to the ground. Watching the sunrise each day, I noticed the clearness of the skies made possible by lower humidity and fewer clouds. These observations led my mind to contemplate the many lessons I have learned in watching summer hand over the river of life’s days to autumn.
Lessons of Youth
One of the first lessons that came to mind was my grandmother teaching my sister and me that before the grass could be cut, all the walnuts, buckeyes, chestnuts, apples, pears, and sticks had to be removed from the yard. At that time, we had many fruit and nut trees on the property, so we could easily spend an entire day cleaning up all the different shapes and sizes of debris. Armed with gloves, rakes, a flat shovel, and a wheelbarrow, we set out on our mission, determined to succeed. Though we often got tired, we persevered until the task was done.
Our perseverance taught me a most valuable lesson: hard work does pay off, though sometimes we must wait to see the fruits of our labor. This lesson is one I hold very dear, for it has allowed me to see some of my dreams come true and has given me the strength and determination to continue onward despite life’s storms.
While raking walnuts in the yard this evening, I wondered how many of these green orbs with a pungent smell have crossed my path in life. My grandmother used to wish aloud that all the falling objects from the trees were money. Though the walnuts may not be considered usable tender, they have been valuable in other ways to me. The memories they bring are priceless, the exercise they provide allows me to stay healthy, and the many thoughts they help me sort out give me renewed hope, energy, and perspective.
Lessons of Autumn
While running, I realized that this is the first autumn in some time that I have not been in school or enrolled in a class of any kind. This is a new experience for me, for I continued my education well into adulthood. I thought about the many facts and forms of information I have had to memorize and learn over the years.
From deep in the annuls of my mind, I remembered learning my prayers in Sunday school, learning multiplication tables in grade school, memorizing the order of the US Presidents and the Gettysburg Address in sixth grade, and having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish in tenth grade.
Though it has been years since I first learned these bits of information, I find them still fresh in my mind, possibly because I had good learning experiences, or due to the numerous times I practiced, practiced, practiced until my mom got tired of listening to me.
Reflecting on these things made me realize that I don’t need to be in school or have to take a class to learn. Nature offers me lessons free of charge every minute of the day if I am willing to take time to look, listen, and contemplate. Though I often need to do things multiple times before getting them right, the experience of doing is what makes the information sink in and remain in my mind. By experience, we make connections that allow us to relate to what we are learning.
Lessons of Relationships
As I contemplated the lessons I have learned, I thought about all the people who have helped me to learn: teachers, relatives, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. We don’t necessarily have to have the title of teacher to be one to others. We have the power to help others and ourselves learn no matter the subject, time, or resources available.
Often, our learning ability is influenced by our environment. If we surround ourselves with positive influences, we get positive results. If we find ourselves surrounded by negative influences, we have a bit more difficulty, but we can still turn the negative into positive if we open our minds and put forth some effort.
Reflecting on my environment made me think back to when I first started reading scripture on a regular basis. I recall it being a dark time in my life and looking for a ray of light to be a guide. Uncertain of where to turn, I opened the Bible.
Though I did not fully understand the passages at first, I could relate to some of the people and events. I found some additional daily meditation books that helped make some of the readings more meaningful and understandable. I also went out on a bit of a limb and started talking to some friends about what I had read. In sharing my experiences, I found a group of people who made life brighter and more meaningful.
The revelation did not take place overnight, but with time, diligence, effort, and an open mind, I was able to see progress, which fueled my interest to learn more. Progress was the spark that lit the flame that turned into a fire, which later became a raging inferno.
Lessons of Life
Learning is a form of growing. As we learn more about ourselves, our surroundings, and others, we become teachers. The cycle of learning and teaching allows us to see the light, which guides us through the days and seasons of life. As we make our way upon the journey, our willingness to share our experiences and build relationships fuels the fires of faith, hope, and love.
May we all find our light through the seasons and lessons of life. May we also help others see the light and all the blessings it offers to us.
May you enjoy the following poem, inspired by the light of the first autumn morning in my area:
First Autumn Morning
Clear blue early morning sky
Running through the heavens wide
As the melon and orange rays
Of the sun’s glory play
On the horizon line just above the trees
And the mist rises from the valleys
Where the green grass grows
Like a sea that flows
When the wind whispers through the blades
Creating shimmering waves
That sparkle when the sun kisses the dew
As the rays run through
The first autumn morning
Full of God’s love before thee.
With a tangerine halo and a golden core,
The sun glows across the morn,
Warming the air and the heart inside
The soul made aware of the dawn’s magic time
Where the quiet and the calm
Bring the stress of life to a halt,
Allowing the body and the mind
To see what matters most in life
By creating a bond between nature and soul
That allows one to move on as time unfolds
In the first autumn morning
Painted by the sun within heaven’s story.
Glowing orange orb hidden behind the leaves
Of the twisted boughs of the walnut tree
Brightening the day and calling to rise
Those slumbering to awake and see the light
Brought forth by nature’s art
And the power of the Lord’s heart
Filtering through the sky to the ground
Amid the song of silence’s sound
Captured by the burst of the symphony
Playing in the first autumn morning
To guide the soul and lead the way
Through stories untold and leaps of faith.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski