In the Pause
The phase of the season is vividly reflected in the nearby ponds of a nature conservancy area that lie along the path of my morning walk. Recent rains and the dieback of shoreline weeds give the ponds the appearance of being maybe a quarter-sized larger than they were in the peak of summer. This morning, for the first time this fall, there was some shell ice around the remaining reeds and cattails stems.
Maybe even more than the look of the place, it is the behavior of the geese and the sandhill cranes that signals the inevitable next change. In early Spring, the trumpeting of the cranes shattered the stillness of the still-frozen March marsh. Crystalized snowdrifts still stretched across the farm fields, looking like old mountain ranges with time-rounded peaks when the cranes first returned, filling the air with their calls to brethren spilling in from the south. Then, as the marsh thawed and greened, the cranes paired off and blended into the surrounding shorelines and pastures to raise up a new generation. By October, the marsh started filling up with cranes again each evening.
In March the geese followed closely on the tail feathers of the cranes. Their raucous honking combined with the trumpeting of the cranes called down the final melting of the ice on the ponds like the children of Israel called down the walls of Jericho. Like the cranes, the geese also quickly dispersed and melded into the landscape to focus of rearing families. But the geese began to re-gather shortly after fledging time for the young of the year and they refilled the pond with social gabbling and honking by mid-summer each evening. October dawns were hailed by the geese as they headed out to surrounding fields to feed, and each October sunset they returned again to the ponds in bunches.
Now in November the cranes and the geese seem to spend more and more mid-day time at the pond - the cranes strewn out along the shoreline, and the geese almost shoulder to shoulder now across the pond’s face. Soon there will be a morning when the flocks lift up into the morning with no intent to return. They will climb up into a stiff northwest wind and ride it far southward.
The marsh around the ponds will be hushed, all sound seeming to dig deep into the mud of the ponds like a frog or a turtle for a winter's long rest. The ice will soon stiffen and refuse to melt by late morning, instead building even in the afternoon sunshine. It will be more like the turning of the book’s cover than the turning of a single day’s page as the story of this year’s seasons come full circle and Winter will pull up its white quilt to blanket the world in silence.
But, for now, we are at the pause before the final act. Be content. It is just as it is meant to be. The pause is a good time to reflect; it is a good time to contemplate; it is a good time to dream. The pause is a good time to give thanks for blessings of these seasons already received; it is a good time to pray for more, for our God is a generous God.
"Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song. Know that the LORD is God, he made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the flock he shepherds. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name; good indeed is the LORD, His mercy endures forever, his faithfulness lasts through every generation." Psalm 100
His Peace <><