What a glorious autumn day; October ushers in some of the most beautiful days of the year with bright mums, colorful leaves, glorious sunrises, sunny days, and breath-taking sunsets. The beauty of this season fills my heart with gratitude and awe to just be alive and witness to each day, but there is also something about the season that seems to touch the heart with a gentle sadness. I often find there are not words sufficient to describe the fusion of emotions that over-whelm me when I stop to stand in wonder and give thanks for the simple pleasures that abound in a autumn day.
However, if I were to pick just one word to describe autumn, I think it would be joy. Joy… a truly powerful word and not to be confused with self-seeking pleasure or self – gratification that many attribute to it. In his book, Surprised by Joy C.S. Lewis describes joy as, “more than mere pleasure, it is an emotion much deeper and more intense.” Ken Gire in Reflections on Your Life has this to say of joy, “Now and then we get firefly glimpses of joy, a phosphorescent blip of something that draws us to faraway fields. Fleeting moments that pass all understanding. Here one second, someplace else the next. With childlike excitement we follow them, hoping to catch one of them long enough to take in the wonder of it all.”
This filling and overfilling doesn’t seem to happen when I just pause and with one sweeping gesture give thanks for the day and all in contains, but it is a slow permeating that happens as I pause to live fully and give thanks for those breath taking moments of beauty that can pass by as trivial and mundane if I fail to notice them. Things like chickens scratching in the long shadows of late afternoon, goats grazing, fresh jars of tomato sauce, grown son working, mums all ablaze in the glow of sunset, and even those things unseen like a hundred bits of conversations with dear friends replayed and treasured in moments of quiet stillness.
It is in these autumn days that those moments of joy most often catch me by surprise and delight me with their simple wonder, but it is also on these days that I most often feel that “inconsolable longing” of which C.S. Lewis speaks…those “fleeting moments that pass all understanding”…those moments that compel us to run into the wind or stop us still and steal our breath. It is then that I think we catch glimpses of a parted veil and feel for a fraction of a second the pull of our hearts heavenward, but the moment passes quickly and it leaves us both blissfully content and yet longingly void of a fleeting wonder we didn’t even know was there.
“It has always seemed to me. ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond-only a glimpse-but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables