Yesterday Brad and I cleared off the deck. The space that was once filled with furniture to host gatherings in our outdoor living space is now (mostly) empty. My hammock is put away. The table we built is put to the side and the chairs are all in the garage. When we have more the help the comfy chairs and fire table will be put away too. Once full, now empty.
As I looked at our deck from the living room window yesterday I realized how appropriate this image is as we approach a new season. Trees once brimming with life are now bare. Plants once filled with color and life are now brown and decaying. Air that once warmed my face is now chilly and crisp. Nature is letting us know that it’s time for a change. We have no choice – the change has arrived.
However, like almost everything in life, we aren’t seeing the whole picture. We aren’t seeing what’s going on below. Those bare trees are storing up nutrients, going dormant and preparing for new life. Those brown plants are using every last bit of life in the leaves to make it through the cold winter. The air is cooling down to slow all of us down – ease us into a quiet space. Those bulbs I planted earlier this fall are doing something – they are getting comfortable in the dirt, preparing for what’s to come.
There’s a lot going on below. When we chose to only look at the surface, we miss so much.
It’s not just happening in nature – it’s happening in us too, in me. When we see the surface of each other, when we don’t take the time to really listen and really look, we miss so much. This season will be harder for some than others. Be gentle with each other. Be gentle with yourself.
It’s not necessary to let everyone in – to take off the mask at the grocery store or the post office or even at work. But, wearing a mask is tiring work. There are times that the mask needs to be removed in order to reveal what’s going on below. When the mask is off, the pressure is off too. When the mask is off, the energy used to keep it on can now be used for something more useful – connections, healing, authenticity.
I’m going to pay more attention to what’s going on below the surface this Advent season –in nature, those I encounter, and even myself.