Nights like this are so rare. It’s 70°, the moon is super bright, there’s an incredible breeze blowing through the trees, and the crickets are singing. I know it’s getting late and the sun is going to come before I know it, but I just can’t head to bed. Because, you can’t bottle up hours like this and save them for a more “reasonable” hour. I know the children will be up soon, and there will be all sorts of needs to be met, things to do, places we have to go. But I don’t want this glorious gift of a night to slip away without fully enjoying it. Everything is so alive out there. My daughter came downstairs about 45 minutes ago; she was having trouble falling asleep. And, she was hungry. So, she sat and ate a banana while chatting with me for a few minutes. She headed off to bed, but now I sort of wish she’d stayed to hang with me until the midnight hour. She loves these nights, too, and is such fabulous company. Now there’s a train horn in the distance, and I can hear the tracks, and there’s the sound of an ambulance somewhere else in town. Opportunity to lift someone else up in prayer, because the Lord is ever listening. The world is still turning, and life is always being lived. The cars going by outside my windows carry people to where at this hour? Lives being lived. And tonight they’re lived in bright moonlight and cricket song. And, I wonder how many people passing by — like the person walking by on the sidewalk behind my house — are able to stop and take in the beauty of the night. Beauty in the everyday. Any hour.
I hope wherever you are tonight, if you’re still up, that you’re able to take some time and enjoy the night before you head off to sleep. Because the heavens declare, and it’s autumn. Hopefully, you have a bright half moon where you’re at, too.
(*Disclaimer about the photo at the top of this post…it’s not perfectly lovely. This I know. But, it is authentic, it is the view I’m enjoying right now. It is beautiful in its own way, with the myriad of branches and the moon that is always so reluctant to be photographed well with the camera on my phone. Now imagine the train whistle and cricket chorus…)
I tried to go to bed an hour and a half ago. It didn’t work out.
I will admit to being a woman easily startled in the night. When walking around downstairs whilst the rest of my family sleeps, I can convince myself that I saw something out of the corner of my eye or that the sound of the house creaking/settling was something sinister. I would prefer to not be walking about the house in the middle of the night. But, if I can’t sleep, sometimes I simply have to change my surroundings. So I land downstairs and make my way to my favorite spot chill. It’s where I find myself tonight. I get that the light from the computer screen is counterproductive to my efforts to induce sleepiness. However, some nights, it’s just what it is and I need to write a little something.
It wasn’t a banner evening in the parenting life I live. It was stressful and unsettling, and beautiful and redemptive. All at once. It was one of the bigger conversations we’ve had with one of our children, confessions on both sides that we are works in process and there are big life lessons to be learned from some recent experiences we’ve had both separately and together. Necessary words, thoughts and lessons, growth to be had. And we are so thankful for it all.
But, though I am thankful, I am worn out. And have a little bit of a latent stress reaction to the situation, so, here I sit instead of sleeping in my bed. And I am reflecting on how you might think you’re alone — waiting for the house to creak or the shadow to catch your eye — there are others up at this time of the day (night) too. And they’re looking for loved ones to commune with in the late hours that are filled with big struggles or emotions. I opened Facebook when I got to my chair. And I read recent posts by my friends: there was sleeplessness due to rain, anger at the state of our country, longing for comfort and relief from grief at the loss of a loved one. And mingled in was the post from a mom friend who laid on the floor next to her daughter’s bed when asked at bedtime, and a photo of her daughter’s tiny hand in her own as the little one fell asleep. Life is full and everyone is somewhere tonight living out a story that is all their own, yet shared. And oftentimes it is m e s s y . And sometimes unbearable, or confusing, or threatens to overwhelm. Or, so bittersweet it brings tears. And reading through real-time responses and interactions between dear friends going through the mess of life, navigating their way through the weeds that can sometimes block the path they are looking for, I was reminded that the world is smaller than it can feel. And in sharing in the life struggles of friends — simple fellowship and a few words amongst friends in what can be lonely hours — can lessen my own burdens as I share in their life experiences. We are part of a larger story and there is every hour give and take, ebb and flow.
And there are night bugs. The incredible yard full of crickets. They are the soundtrack tonight. They are the warm reminder that the God of all creation is at work. A vibrant chorus that surrounds me. Voices reaching out to one another in the night, in the dark. Community. And I am glad I gave up my earlier quest for sleep, because sometimes, it can wait.
Summer mornings don’t get much more lovely than this. Well, by my estimation. It’s bright, sunny…the air is warm and getting warmer, but there is an incredible cool breeze. I appreciate cool breezes — warm ones make me dizzy. My children are chasing each other, laughing, through sun-filtered grass. And I am drinking the loveliest Moonlight Jasmine tea that tastes just like the scent of the fields of my childhood summers.
Not every hour in my day will be like this. Soon there will be sibling squabbles, dishes, decluttering, and more laundry. But for now, I will enjoy the summer bliss. Here I go….
I look forward to these blooming every year.
I’m not really a collector. I don’t have a box full of inaugural TY Beanie Babies, a set of books with stamps from every era in American history, racks of tiny silver spoons, or a refrigerator covered with magnets from every state in the U.S. But, what I do love to collect are plants from the yards of my friends and loved ones. Throughout my yard I have created beds that are filled with plants given to me over the years by people I hold dear. And I can, with very few exceptions, recount who gave each one to me. There are tiger lilies and bleeding hearts in the shade that came from my mother-in-law. The sedum outside my kitchen window, that feeds the house finches & blooms lavender in the autumn, has been divided several times — it also came from her. But, not only did they come from her, they came from the house that we knew and loved so well, and has since been sold and passed on to another family to love. Some history there. The ferns and sweet william, the hosta and absolutely glorious pink lily of the valley came from Aunt Beth. The memories of being at her house (with the most beautiful back yard I’ve ever been in) have come along with these plants that bloom each spring. The rhubarb plants that overtook the children’s garden and needed to be moved to the side yard were a gift from our current neighbors. The stella d’oro daylilies came from my neighbor, Asha. She gave me some dozen of these beautiful plants several years ago when she tired of the dead heading and upkeep. Where as they used to live around her patio, they now line the bed in which our tomatoes grow. Shortly after my mother passed away some years ago, my friend Heather wrote me a check, telling me that I was to buy some flowers for my yard in memory of my mother. I did just that: notably, the Halfway To Arkansas Blue. It reminds me of my mother’s huge affection for the south and her travels there. That plant has grown and been divided, and has been passed on to grow in the yards of some of my friends. Of course, there are many starters that I’ve purchased. Heirloom violets and delphiniums, shasta daisies and lupines, wild geranium and phlox, forget me nots and salvia…I love them all and look forward to being able to share them with friends in the years to come. But, I cherish the history that comes with the living, thriving gifts given to me by loved ones. Plants that came from people they loved. Plants and flowers that bloomed in yards of houses where memories were made and lives were lived. Plants that grew and flourished under the care of my loved ones. And because of that care and sweet generosity, they now provide the animals I love with food and protection. They beautify my yard and will be part my story, my family’s story. And, my yard, my days, and my seasons are lovelier for it.