October has always been one of my favorite months of the year. The delicious experience of crisp air, fresh apples, clear skies, colorful leaves, plaid shirts, boots, campfires and s’mores all signal the beginning of another school year bright with possibilities.
October now is sprinkled with mixed emotions as I embrace anniversaries. October 9 & 14 (1999 & 2000) are the due dates of two longed-for babies we never held. And today, October 19, is the anniversary of my Dad’s death in 2011. It is amazing the vast emotions one heart can hold in the same cramped space.
A bright spot was my birthday gift this fall from Michael – an overnight getaway on a farm out in the middle of Indiana corn fields. During the day we enjoyed horseback riding in the woods and long hikes in a nearby state park.
Hands down, our favorite hours were spent lying on the ground under a star-studded Milky Way sky as the autumn wind crinkled its way among the corn stalks like a battalion of soldiers. For me, looking up into the night sky always provides a new perspective as I open myself to its whispers. I realized (once again) that I can only see stars at night, when its dark, when I am far away from man-made light. That may seem like a “duh” statement, yet as I reflect on the many ways I try to fight the darkness within my mind and heart and run to man-made light, I wonder if I am not also dimming the stars. And what else might I miss in the dusk and dark hours if I don’t allow my eyes to adjust to the “night sky?”
I also found myself drawn into an expanse far greater than my own existence. Lying under billions of stars I thought of mankind through the centuries who used these very same stars to navigate their way in unfamiliar territory. I was lured out of our chronos time of rigid hours and minutes into aeon time – time outside of time, eternity past and eternity future. I thought of Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
So, this October, in the midst of bright colors and deep sorrow, I am looking up; looking for “stars” and drawing strength from “so great a cloud of witnesses” who have endured more than I can imagine. I lay down my flashlight and surrender my limited view for all that God longs to reveal as I navigate the dark and dim lit hours here below.
Grief & the Holidays
Michael and I are offering a day retreat for bereaved hearts who may be dreading or fearing the holidays. Send this link to someone who might benefit: www.hope-rises.com/attend-a-workshop