A few nights ago, in the midst of a boisterous crowd around a fire, a friend of mine kept stopping me midsentence: “Wait, wait, hold on, just a second,” he’d say, holding up his hands out palms forward, fingers to the sky. “Just hold on and look at all this. Look how perfect all this is.” He was right, and still is.
Happy autumnal equinox to all the girls and boys across the land!
Okay everyone, write it down: The wizard was, once, on time for an equinox post. It’s nothing short of a miracle and I can only give credit to luck and a handful of disparate factors that all came together to create the right conditions for me to do my job on time for once.
It’s all about the little things. Well, the big things, too, but whatever.
To be sure, this in itself isn’t necessarily adequate to mark the occasion – you’ll see a special prayer-meditation (or maybe a prayer and a meditation or one or the other, who can really say?) later this week, and probably by this time next week I’ll have a chance to babble on in more conventional fashion about the annual significance of this seasonal shift. For now, this is what you get.
When it comes to the high holy holidays of the calendar year, I’ve actually been pretty lucky. Actually, to be honest, I’ve been lucky in a lot of ways this year. I wouldn’t project it to hit any lifetime top-5 lists or anything, but it’s definitely the best year I’ve had in quite some time. I’ve enjoyed myself.
But beyond that, mostly by sheer chance and with very little effort or planning on my part, each of the last four seasonal changes have been conveniently situated as to coincide with large events that have made it easy for me to follow my own exhortations to celebrate. The last winter solstice (besides being next to Christmas) happened right before my wedding. The spring equinox happened just after my son was born and my own birthday. In June, we had a big party to celebrate my mother becoming a pastor and a good friend visited from Korea the following week. Now, for the fall, I had the honor to be in the wedding of another dear old friend.
Now, this was not just any old wedding.
It was held in the bucolic villa of Lyme, New Hampshire. You’ve never heard of this place and you never will. I’m still a little confused as to how it even appears in Google searches. But it’s a cool place for a wedding, and a great place to usher in the fall. Some of the leaves at the tips of the trees were tinged with color and the cool northern air wasn’t so much a bother as it was invigorating. We were occupying a rather large compound on a pretty hillside pond, with cabins that dotted the heights above the water.
Sometimes it seems like at least a lifetime (not quite two, in any case) since I left my old Keene world and stopped regularly seeing the people who used to inhabit it. Here we all were together again, all weird former dramas and disagreements and entanglements put behind us – at the very least, for the sake of this occasion, if not permanently.
It was a most remarkable scene. We had the hugs and laughter you might expect, but we also traveled through a dangerous Twilight-Zone-like metropolis we dubbed “Narctown,” worshipped a hippie deermaster god named Ike, stole Shakespeare (I won’t elaborate), had a heartfelt and impromptu singalong of “Brokedown Palace,” and wandered the compound until 5 AM, loudly burglarizing any compounds we found unlocked in order to start fires in their fireplaces. That last part included the groom, by the way, and everything I just described happened on the eve of the wedding alone!
That was when one of the old comrades kept stopping me midsentence to point out precisely of what I – and most of us, every day – needed reminding. “Look how perfect this all is. Just look at it.”
It was a special time in even more ways than I’ve detailed, but I’ve got very little to add to that statement. I can’t think of a better idea upon which to build this upcoming season.
Terrible though it all may be at times, just look at how perfect it is.
Many sincere and powerful blessings be upon the bride and groom (currently in Aruba, damn them), and a very happy and blessed autumnal equinox to the rest of you clowns. Salaam.