Cheri and I sat out in the gazebo this morning, drinking coffee and eating some of her signature bran muffins. For me, sitting in a gazebo, on overstuffed wicker chairs with a huge glass coffee table for our plate still seems a bit decadent. However, with all the windows open and a slight breeze blowing through, and the temperature at about 65 degrees, it was a beautiful time. Even nicer, it was quiet. At 8:00 on a Saturday morning, no one had decided to crank up their riding lawn mowers which always run in the 100s of decibels, and then pull out the weedwhackers and leaf blowers. Even better, the children who live next door, who have a trampoline, and have never, I’m sure, been able to utter a word that was not encased in a shriek or scream or yell were strangely absent from the morning activities. The only noise that we heard was the sound of the geese flying low overhead, honking and directing traffic to the small lake to our east.
In our noisy world, full of televisions and constant chatter and music, to have a morning spent in quiet talks and tasty muffins is a real blessing. Part of what made that possible is that this of course is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, which means that everyone who possibly could get away for the three-day event left yesterday, after mowing the yards and hooking the boats up perhaps one more time this year as they headed to their lake destination. The vacuum of folks leaving the neighborhood meant that only blissful quiet filled in behind them, and our best vacation is their vacating.
However, even though we are seventeen days away from the autumnal equinox and the official start of autumn, Summer has already packed its bags, loaded the car, and in now walking out the front door, waving goodbye and promising to see us next year. What a strange odd season this has been! Beyond the pandemic, and all the changes that occurred with that beast, we have witnessed a nation boiling in unrest, which will not end soon, I am afraid. For me personally, it marked the season when I, too, walked out the door of active ministry, and took on the retired mantle. It wasn’t so much lazy or hazy, but it certainly was a crazy season.
But this morning, still surrounded by roses blooming – the coral colored bush is particularly beautiful this year, we did notice that the hummingbird didn’t spend much time around the hanging geraniums, probably because the blooms are pretty well spent. Likewise, the bumblebees which have swarmed the flowers in the garden all summer are also far fewer in number, and the butterflies have basically all flown south. As is typical up north, September is the season for flies – sticky, ugly, intruding flies – who drive inside cats crazy when one happens to make it past the open door. Fly hunting, using the leaping skills of domestic shorthairs, is quite the indoor sport.
So, soon, we will take down the plants, and toss them in the huge trash dumpster down the street for recycling and mulching. And in a while – not yet, but soon – it will be time to take the cushions off the outdoor patio set and store them for the winter. All the fall jobs await, and hopefully we will have a long stretch before we see white flakes in the air, unlike a couple of years ago, when the snow fell early and covered the leaves from October to April.
But for now – today, and this weekend, while the temperature flutters between summer and fall – I want to be a bit lazy. I want to grill brats and burgers and maybe even boil some shrimp or crab, and to fit in a nap or two, and celebrate the end of a season that is life-giving for us in the north. I plan to intentionally do as little as possible, and to maybe just watch for that hummingbird to fly by. It’s summer, after all – at least for a couple more days.
Word for the day: hectic. Sure – you know what this word means. You even know it is pronounced HECK-tick. But did you know that it has as its root, the Greek hektikos, meaning “habitual, or consumption.” “Hectic” was originally the way you would describe someone who was taken by consumption, the old-time word for tuberculosis. It was described as a “hectic” fever which was part of the disease, with flushed cheeks, and dry skin and a rapid pulse. A patient was known to be hectic when they held those symptoms.
Fast forward to today, and we use “hectic” to describe the “fever” that comes in a busy world, or confusing and frantic community. When things get hectic, I guess you could expect cheeks to get flushed and pulses to rise – but it’s not because we can’t catch our breath… or maybe it is. Fortunately, we have the power to dial down the hectic nature of our world without even using antibiotics. Just take a deep breath, and let the rest of the hectic dissipate for a bit.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.