Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tools for the Journey #22 - UP

What is your UP? (Up as noun not adverb)

In my corner of the Blue-Green the rusty counterpane of autumn has all but finished its blanketing of the world outside my windows; the yard is a mess of auburn foliage yet my eyes are drawn upward. There are still apples clinging to the high branches of trees, and stubborn leaves holding on at the tops of old maples determined to avoid their flight to earth. Yet even with the crunchy messiness below, my eyes are pulled heavenward.

The smoke rising from burning leaf piles in the dooryard of old farmhouses and the stunning, crystalline blue sky. Everything around me in this leafy cathedral makes me want to look UP!

Have you noticed how fall and winter make you look up at things falling down, and spring and summer tend to make you look down at things coming up?

Autumn reminds me of ancient cathedrals built tall so religious pilgrims would turn their eyes toward heaven; a reminder of where their blessings rain down from like so many falling leaves.

For the past twelve months I’ve been a pilgrim on a harrowing pilgrimage through hospital rooms, infusion suites, pain meds and feeding tubes. This time last year my husband had stage IV, metastatic cancer and we were uncertain of the future. My 'up' at that time was the fervent prayer Paul could somehow survive the horrid chemotherapy treatments and by some miracle return to being the vibrant husband and father he had been. This year my 'up' is in profound gratitude for the manifestation of this miracle.

There were many dark days in the past twelve months and yet there were also many friends who stood by the road and shown their lights to guide us through those days. Some made quilts and hats to keep Paul warm, some raked leaves so I could be at the hospital, and Meals for Neighbors quietly deposited meals on our doorstep three days a week for months. These are but a few of the kindnesses extended by the fellow pilgrims we’re blessed to call our friends.

My habit in fall-time is to be mindful of my 'harvest' over the past year and this year is no different. Ever since I was a child I've loved the idea of a holiday all about people being grateful. What is different this year is what my 'up' is focused on.

My friend, Erik Weihenmayer, who lost his eyesight at thirteen years old, talks about alchemy and how to turn the lead of our lives into gold - the transmutation of something base into something extraordinary. This past year has been one of the most 'lead-filled' and challenging of my life, yet friends and neighbors selflessly rose up and made the journey far less painful than it might have been. An ear, a shoulder, a hand extended - all helped us to look up from our troubles with gratitude; giving us eyes to see gold where we thought there was only lead.

This Thanksgiving my 'up' is focused with gratitude on the blessing and miracle of true friends. The grace of God is omnipresent and witnessed by the presence of these earthly angels He has put in our way.

As you bow your heads this Thanksgiving think about what your 'up' is this year; what has your harvest brought you? Savor what is upon your table up the good from your bounty because there will no doubt be an equinox of bright and blustery days ahead on this unpredictable leaf-strewn journey.

Autumn is an alchemist turning these leaves to gold and we are supposed to look up and take notice of this overflowing cornucopia.

 In Joy and Gratitude and for lifting us UP!
Chery, Paul, Alia and YuYu

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."     -Marcel Proust