The dog days of summer have given way to the dogwood days. Each fall recreates the surprise of when I first moved to North Carolina: here, the dogwoods invite us to the dance of fall. After the dogwood’s showy tiaras of spring, autumn’s display is more subtle, and comes on slowly, a spreading tinge of russet and rust.
As the green recedes, the colors deepen, displaying the tree’s true colors, which have been there all along, but hidden in a flood of chlorophyll. Each year I am reminded and recalled to the task of finding and revealing my own true colors.
After the summer’s intensive internship in chaplaincy, I’ve taken on the next step, a 16 month chaplaincy residency. I don’t know if this is the right path; it’s a question I’m living into with as much grace as I can (receive). I am glad to be in ministry; glad to be of use; and still wondering if there will be a community or church that will call my name. Or if the call is already echoing around me, and I am just missing it.
Here is one blessing I am glad I did not miss: a couple of weeks ago, the companions of my Durham prayer group took the time and made the effort to recognize my return to ordained status in the United Church of Christ. This sweet time began on a rainy Tuesday evening, when the clouds cleared just in time for our walk down to a lakeside gazebo, where a gray heron was waiting for us, perched on the dock’s railing.
She sat for the longest time.
I walked toward her, in the gold of a setting sun … spread my arms to greet her.
I was remembering a story told to me by a friend who is a member of the Occoneechee Band of the Saponi tribe: she said that bald eagles are the birds who carry our prayers to God, and the gray heron is the messenger bird who brings the answers back.
This angular swath of gray sat for a long while in elegant repose before lifting and soaring away. It must have been a long answer. I wish I could intuit all of it.
One thing I am learning, from my prayer partners and from my hospital work; sometimes my quietude is a gift … a gift of space, of peace, of reflection, like the water and air that lift and light the heron’s flight.
Perhaps there is a space opening up, a fresh breeze blowing, a Spirit moving over the face of our waters. What might quicken to life, within us and around us? What might we will and wish into being, from sheer desire and determination? What might be revealed in us, when our truest colors come to Light?