Looking out the window

Churches and trains
They all look the same to me now
They shoot you some place
While we ache to come home somehow

– Gregory Alan Isakov, Amsterdam

Linford of Over the Rhine said,Letters are good for discussing the weather. Almost anything that can be glimpsed out a window fits well into a letter.”

I think this is also a good way to think about blog posts. Let me tell you what I can see out the window.

Honestly, it’s not much of a view, but a year into the pandemic I moved my home office from a windowless basement room to a tiny-window basement room to get a glimpse of the outside world. From this low vantage point I also get glimpses of the creatures who roam the wilderness beneath our deck, and the feet of my family members walking up and down the steps.

But today, I see the gray sky and a few tall salvia waving in the cool breeze. Their purple blooms were a favourite for bees and hummingbirds all summer, and have maintained their colour even now, as the trees behind them have turned to golden yellow. The spindles of our deck are freshly-painted thanks to my wife’s meticulous care, but serve as a reminder of all the projects which are not yet complete, and might remain so as our summer optimism quickly falls prey to fall weather and shorter days.

I loved listening to Susan Cain’s conversation with Rich Roll this week. They discussed not only the topic of Cain’s previous book Quiet (woah, personal blog blast from the past, 2013), but also, befitting the season, her new book, Bittersweet, and the “great ache that binds us”. This and her TED talk (and, oh, probably her book as well, right?), masterfully uncover the riches of longing, ache, the pain that makes us human but somehow can also seems so beautiful.

Afraid of the Dark

Cain in her talk mentioned how we as a culture are afraid of the dark, and this theme seemed to run deep as Maria Popova surfaced her findings on the topic from the writing of Henry Beston from 1928.

Learn to reverence night and to put away the vulgar fear of it, for, with the banishment of night from the experience of man, there vanishes as well a religious emotion, a poetic mood, which gives depth to the adventure of humanity.

Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

Night is approaching quickly, and soon we will again commemorate the longest night with our annual Longest Night Run, so thoughts of darkness fill the autumn air daily as I watch the stars on my morning runs, and again while walking the dog in the evening.

Maybe this is the season to listen to those creatures of the night, to rest in the stillness ushered in by dark, sit with our inner voices of longing, or hum along to a deep song, or share quiet moments around a warm fire. This really is a deep season, isn’t it?

Thanks for looking out the window with me. What’s the view from yours?

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