I love November.
The way the air swirls and lifts the leaves and everything is crunchy beneath my feet. I love the savory smell of late fall, and the taste of it too. I wouldn’t say the sky is colorless, but the layers and shades of blue and grey feel like a canvas that highlights every little thing bursting forth. The blue California jays, the evergreens, the gold and orange and red of Autumn. And then there is my mountain, still showing spots of bare rock, like cracks in the bright, snowy white peaks. A visual feast.
November is also the month of gratitude. It may be as simple to note as a prayer, like Mary Oliver writes:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
— Mary Oliver, THIRST
Maybe it’s about giving voice to the thanks you feel but don’t always say. It can’t hurt. It’s a way of being both thoughtful and mindful. A way of more completely occupying the space you occupy in your own life. As one of my favorite people says ” attention is love” (Karen Maezen Miller). You can read her Thanksgiving post here:
November feels like love.
November is also my birthday month. A celebration of beginnings: my 61st year, the first rumblings of winter, the beginning of the dark, cold nights ahead. I used to compose a wishlist and was showered with gifts as my special day drew near. Books and pens and hiking gear. These days, I want for very little in the way of “things”. I am rich beyond measure and “stuff” can often feel burdensome and unnecessary. But that isn’t to say I don’t have a wishlist this year. I do, and it’s a little different this time around.
My first wish is that you help me by sharing this post. Many of you who follow me here are probably like-minded friends, but there are others. I want to share these wishes of mine with them, too. It’s not exactly an olive branch. It’s more like a really honest and direct conversation. I don’t think we talk enough. Any of us. You know, about the important things.
My really big wish is that everyone consider what it is to be mindful in the months ahead. There is so much division and hate. Can’t we find a place of understanding?
I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t truly love your neighbor if you have somehow decided that they should accept less for their lives and families than you do for your own. ( to paraphrase Dan Rather)
Read that again.
That is not loving your neighbor.
Here then, is my last wish: next time you see or read something hateful, step in and say something. It might give courage to someone else to do the same. Standing up for others is powerful and once it gets momentum it can quite literally save lives. I personally won’t dignify most hateful rhetoric with an argument, but I always try to diffuse the situation with a little reality.
Kindness doesn’t cure everything,
but it cures unkindness.
– Karen Maezen Miller
So. When Everything is not fine …
Be The Light.
(If you are so inclined, please consider a donation to Lambert House in support of LGBTQi+ youth. I got sober in that yellow house on the hill when it was the ALANO Club and I volunteered briefly when it became Lambert House. Say yes to helping these young people grow up safe and confident)