Monday morning, as I opened the front door and bent to snap the leash on my dog’s collar, I was surprised to see frost on the ground and hear the faint sounds of geese. I stepped outside just in time to catch the tail end of two small vees of geese heading south. But the fading honks left me with a sense of loss and longing and like always I shrugged it off. But as I started my walk these feelings lingered. Why are there days in Fall that make us look in some self-induced depression mirror and measure ourselves by whatever is not yet done instead of by what we have achieved? I know the physical answer. The days are getting shorter. Our life clock ticks more loudly in our ears. But now I know these moments don’t have to cripple us. This can be a time to rejoice in the rituals Fall drops on and around us.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First I have to take you back to a moment that happened to me a few weeks ago. I was on the phone with my brother. We were planning a family get together for my parents 65th wedding anniversary and discussing lunch vs dinner options and both talking over each other. It was around 8 or 8:30pm when a distant sound from outside soon became so loud and so overbearing I had to interrupt the call. It was geese! Lots of them. Their honking was as loud as trumpets and they seemed to be flying between the houses. Stunned I sat there until they passed then got back to my call and tried to tell my brother about it. Since I haven’t heard geese honking for many, many years I took it as another reward for the listening I have been working on. And then I totally forgot about it until today when I walked right into another loud migration of birds shouting from the tips of the trees near my house.
There were a surreal number of birds in the trees. All of the trees on one side of the entire block - both front and back yards - were overflowing with chattering birds. I stood there in the wonder of it all and tried to commune with them. Tried to imagine what was going on, where they were headed. What their community was like. Suddenly they all lit from the branches at once and moved fluidly one way then the other and were gone. A strong tug from my dog broke my trance. What an amazing gift to have witnessed this.
Later that night I was locking up and noticed the moon light through the trees. It was full and the details of the day rushed together and I made the connection. The migration is tied to the phases of the moon, just as we are. I had witnessed Fall turn itself over to winter, witnessed its unfolding migration patterns and I started thinking about the patterns of my own life. About how we really do need each other and how we need to participate in this grand migration to keep the balance of things. It shouldn’t cripple us. On the contrary when we are open and listening and watching it has just the opposite impact. If you haven’t felt this immense yet simple joy in awhile take a few minutes, open your own door and stand there awhile. I promise, it will come to you. Java!