Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fall's Lessons: Allowing the Wonder

“The senses, being the explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge.” Maria Montessori

As I began to write about the lessons of this fall, my first thought was that Fall has been late in coming. It slipped right by me unrecognized as I was waiting of it to come dressed in a familiar uniform.

Fall usually comes early here in our mountains. So early that we have our October Fest in August. Fall is crisp September days when the streets become arbors of golden Poplars strewn with carpet of gold and red leafs and chilly nights shining clear in star-strewn skies. But not this year. The above picture from years past doesn't resemble our mountain this year. Oh, the Poplars did turn golden and their leaves did fall, but they were quickly whisked away by warm Santa Ana winds and browned where they lay by a hot October and November sun. They stand here now mostly naked with their lacy branches tall in the warmth of another seventy-degree day.

The fresh evergreen Christmas wreath my mother sends each year for our front door seems strangely out of place in our bright and balmy mid days.

Fall just hasn't matched up with our image image of what it should be. But who says how fall should be? Isn't it just such preconceptions that keep us from enjoying the wonder of the unexpected, the unusual, and the novel? What have I missed by overlooking this year's unique presence?

A similar question came to mind recently while waiting to register for an appointment. The receptionist asked the young woman in line ahead of me if she had a nice Thanksgiving. "I've had better," she replied. Having pondering our preconceptions about fall, I immediately thought what were her preconceptions, all of our preconceptions, about Thanksgiving is? And how do such preconceptions keep up from being fully thankful not only on that special holiday, but everyday?

Now I'm wondering about winter. Officially it's only 17 days away and we have many preconceptions about that season, especially the Christmas holiday with snow and mistletoe, city sidewalks dressed in holiday cheer, and chestnuts roasting o'er an open fire. But what will this winter and this Christmas actually be like? What wonder might it bring if we don't miss it while looking for the Christmas we imagine?

Preconceptions take the wonder of life. The act of wondering, anticipating, not knowing, is the doorway to wonder.

The Poplars certainly didn't miss the presence of our typical fall. They greeted their late and hurried undressing and embraced its newness as any other. Might we greet this winter in just such a way? Letting it unfold in its own novel and idiosyncratic way? Might it be all the more wonder-filled if we set our preconceptions aside and welcome this winter and this holiday season anew?

Might life itself be a more rewarding adventure if we greeted each day in that way

Blessings of Fall

Living in wonder is a natural expression of our attraction to those things in life that fulfill and nurture us. It is an on-going acknowledgement of our gratitude for all that sustains us.