Compass Points is a monthly newsletter to support and inspire your most #HeartspokenLife. Reading time: under 5 minutes.
October 15, 2019
How can it be mid-October already?
John and I have just returned from London to visit our son and his wife and our two little grandsons (ages 2-1/2 and 4-1/2). It was wonderful to spend quality time with them and hear the boys’ adorable British accents.
We visited the RAF Museum and were moved by a recording of Winston Churchill’s stirring tribute to the RAF pilots in a speech to the House of Commons on August 20, 1940: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” There was a P-51 Mustang, like the one my father flew during WWII when he was stationed outside of London. It was sobering to be reminded of how close the Allies were to a Nazi victory. CLICK HERE for a 2019 Memorial Day tribute to Dad and a 1944 picture of him standing on the wing of his “Paper Doll” airplane before a dangerous mission to Russia.
What’s going on at Riverwood?
“In October, a maple tree before your window lights up your room like a great lamp. Even on cloudy days, its presence helps to dispel the gloom.” ~ John Burroughs
What a perfect description! From my kitchen sink, I see a Silver Maple tree that is turning bright yellow and a Crimson Maple that is turning brilliant red. In late afternoon, the sun’s rays shine through these magnificent trees and magically bathe my kitchen and sunroom in a warm glow.
The drought during September stressed the trees this year, though, and the Silver Maple has already started to shed its leaves, making a lovely yellow carpet around its base. Every squirrel scampering across the yard is carrying an acorn, chestnut, or walnut in its mouth.
Last week, the temperatures shifted abruptly from summer to fall. The mornings are brisk enough for a jacket, but it warms up considerably by afternoon. While we were in London, my hummingbirds left and headed south. There are more titmice, however, and I will soon welcome my winter birds when it’s cold enough to put the sunflower feeders back up. Right now, though, the black bears are actively foraging to prepare for hibernation, and anything edible left outside is fair game for their ravenous appetites.
Get outside and savor this incredible season.
“In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October.” ~ Alexander Smith
✧NORTH—Faith: Evangelism gets a bad rap
As an Episcopalian, I am accustomed to a quiet and traditional liturgy and can be put off by those whose religious fervor is louder and more aggressive. The “fire and brimstone” approach is one I used to associate with the word “evangelism,” but I believe I’ve given the word a bad rap. According to the Oxford dictionary, evangelism is simply the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. We can be evangelists without standing on a soapbox. Any time we encourage, help, comfort, or reach out to others in need, we are practicing evangelism. Any time we express gratitude, we serve as models to others. When I post a quote of faith or inspiration on Facebook, it’s digital evangelism.
Find your own unique form of evangelism and practice it joyfully.
✧SOUTH—Connection: Sometimes you have to let it go
It is one of the greatest mysteries of human relationships that sometimes we must let go of cherished ideas and even cherished people. The need to be in control and to be right are signs of our ego at work, and the result can be a relationship that is unhealthy for all concerned. Fear, anger, and blame are toxic. “The energy it takes to stoke and maintain the fire of blame prevents you from moving on and connecting with others,” Tony Robbins reminds us.
Right now, the trees in my yard are teaching me a powerful lesson about how lovely it can be to let dead things go. What needs to be released in your own life?
✧EAST—Self-Awareness: Is your motivation fear…or love?
I try to temper my decisions with the right balance of heart and head. Usually, that combination is enough for a clear decision, but not always. Sometimes, such as a tough church committee decision I was once part of, the choices seem fraught with unhappy consequences no matter what. In that church situation, someone finally suggested a process inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It called for making a list of pros and cons concerning the choices and then prayerfully considering which items on the list were inspired by fear and which by love. This helped us reframe the options, and the right decision became clear. We knew the consequences might still be unpopular, but we were able to move forward with confidence. Since then, I’ve found this exercise can be adapted for many situations, big and small, and it always helps me find clarity.
It’s an essential act of self-knowledge to understand whether you’re being motivated by fear or love, and that knowledge can provide the courage to make healthier choices. Give it a try.
✧WEST—Nature: Autumn’s poignant paradox
October is my favorite month.
I love the cooler temperatures, the brilliant colors, and the marvelous scent of fallen leaves and wood smoke in the air. I love the drone of chainsaws punctuating the afternoons as neighbors build up their woodpiles.
But I know others feel stirrings of dread and fear in October. To them, it is more a harbinger of winter, and that means shorter days, longer nights…colder, darker. Depending on the weather where you live, it can mean increasing isolation and decreased mobility.
Nature’s cycle of life is, indeed, in decline in autumn, and the poignant paradox is that exquisite beauty exists alongside death and decay. While trees are ablaze in glorious color, other plants are withering and dying. Leaves are falling. Many birds and animals are embarking on migrations of unimaginable distance and danger. Not all of them will return.
Our minds know this is part of a cycle that will come around again, but as author and psychologist Bonaro Overstreet suggested, “October is a symphony of permanence and change.”
Embrace it all and be grateful for every gift that autumn brings.
What I’m loving this month
John and I enjoyed every minute of the 16-hour documentary film “Country Music” by renowned director Ken Burns. It distilled 101 interviews, 700 hours of archival clips, and 100,000 still photos into a remarkably moving tapestry woven from so many different threads of history, culture, and humanity.
This quintessential American music is influenced by so many music traditions brought in by Native Americans, African slaves, immigrants, pioneers, and mountain people. It was beautifully produced and profoundly moving. Regardless of whether you’re a country music fan, I think you’ll find this documentary will enhance your understanding and appreciation for our country. I hope you can find it through your local PBS channel or the Internet.
Autumn Equinox Ritual
Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields,
The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
And you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring
Come to us, Lord of Harvest
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us …
Recent posts at Heartspoken.com
Heartspoken Moment: Listen #1– Take just a moment to stop and listen—to really appreciate the miracle of hearing. It can change the trajectory of your whole day.
Life Is Like A River: Keep It Unpolluted – Life is like a river, made up of many smaller streams. Are you taking care of the streams flowing into your life’s river to keep them unpolluted?
Are You Feeding The Monsters? – Sometimes poetry speaks more powerfully than any lecture. In the work of our country’s 2019 Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, I found both recognition and strength. Are you feeding the monsters?
Heartspoken Moment: Your Circumstances Don’t Care – The circumstances of your life at any moment don’t care about you at all, so don’t waste time or energy trying to change what you can’t control.
“It must be October, the trees are falling away and showing their true colors.” ~ Charmaine J. Forde
“October had tremendous possibility. The summer’s oppressive heat was a distant memory, and the golden leaves promised a world full of beautiful adventures. They made me believe in miracles.” ~ Sarah Guillory
“October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.” ~ John Sinor
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See you in November. Until then, breathe deeply, love fiercely, and savor every moment. Know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
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