How swiftly the strained honey of afternoon light flows into darkness,
and the closed bud shrugs off its special mystery in order to break into blossom,
as if what exists, exists so that it can be lost
and become precious.
~ Lisel Mueller
I came across this poem while listening to a Dharma talk by the gifted writer and teacher, Natalie Goldberg, at the Upaya Dharma Center. I can think of no other season of the year when this poem is more true than in autumn.
How precious all of nature becomes when the light begins to change, the garden begins to fold into itself in preparation for winter, and the leaves start their magnificent transformation before gliding to the ground. It seems like only yesterday that it was summer with everything in full bloom. Now, each morning reveals another subtle change in our surroundings. How true this is as well when we take a look at our lives and realize how swiftly the things we consider most precious flow away like the afternoon light.
I think about my children as I look at my favorite picture of them on the wall, two little girls, one with a big smile on her face posing in her first-day-of-kindergarten outfit, and her younger sister by only 14 months, a mischievous sparkle in her eye that is still there some 40 years later. How swiftly they grew up, and how precious the time I had with them when they were little and make believe seemed more real than reality
I think about my parents, both long passed now, and my own childhood. Why is it that we often only realize how precious something is when it is lost to us? Maybe what we should be teaching our children is not how to keep up with this fast paced world, but how to slow down and appreciate the preciousness of every moment. Perhaps we all need to slow down and capture as many precious moments as we can before they are gone. I think that's what draws me to autumn so much. It is because it is a stark and beautiful reminder of how swiftly things change and how we only have this moment to appreciate them.
Take a moment today to go outside and just experience a moment in nature. Capture the sights, sounds, smells and feelings. Hug your kids and grand kids. Cuddle your pets. Let it all become precious now, not after it has passed from us.
And so it is.