By Rodney Dean – BFL Spiritual Director/Catechist
Summer slowly ripens into August…when crepe myrtles are still blooming, not as they were… yet still lovely with the variety of colors…white, lavender, magenta. Pampas grasses are in their moment of glory with iridescent pink and cream colors. The sun shows up later and says goodnight sooner as the days shorten a bit, yet they are still long and warm. The sky and light look different, so does the ocean. The mid-Atlantic Ocean water is pleasantly warm by now…and along the outer reaches of Cape Hatteras, it is easily upper 70’s and crystal clear. I pull into the parking lot of where the Lighthouse used to be (before it was moved) to enjoy the sun setting…and look up and see an old surfing friend from 40 years ago. We are older…we are ripening… like the summer days and nights, like crepe myrtles in the final stages of blooming during August.
As Paula D’Arcy reminds us, God comes to us disguised as our lives. My old friend and I talk for a few minutes with a plan to continue the conversation. Before departing, he quickly reflects on a shared moment from 37 years ago. It invites me to share about another one, 15 years ago. We have changed as we have aged, yet there is a timeless quality, an authenticity perhaps, grounded in who we are with one another. We have lived long enough to know how many curveballs are thrown during this human experience. The swapping of stories is evidence of what has unfolded in our lives over the years. We quickly recognize the sorrow, the sadness, and the beauty of one another’s experiences. Our bond grows even more resonant in those moments of vulnerability. Then we agree to go surfing again soon,…together.
Earlier in the day, while driving down a typical sand dusted and paved roads that one finds on a barrier island many miles out in the ocean from the mainland, a turtle was making its way. The oncoming car was already stopped, so I did the same. The turtle continued; the other driver carefully drove around, and then we all slowly proceeded. The turtle decided to stay on the pavement, and the risks are clear. I drove away thinking of how being slow has its advantages…until it doesn’t.
As the sun sets, a crescent moon appears in the western sky. It is there for a while before it slowly sets too…and then the beauty of the night sky becomes even more visible. It is in these moments I am reminded of how important it is to be like the turtle and slowly make one’s way…to just be outside in a special place without rushing away…to run into an old friend who loves to share stories, who loves to see people from his life journey. To enjoy seeing those crepe myrtle blossoms…even though they are moving slowly towards not being there anymore…until next season. To then turn and see pampas grasses celebrating their youth and vibrance, slowly growing in the waning days of summer.
God comes to us in these moments: The fleeting conversations across forty-plus years…the turtle slowly crossing the road…the season of summer slowly ripening…the aging of our physical selves and maybe the wisdom that flows from it all. August days…and August nights…summer slowly fading away. The richness of it all, awaiting our gaze. May we slowly turn to see it, to hear it, to simply notice. These moments are really the key to it all. Sometimes it seems this is all we have…these moments…mysteriously beautiful and fleeting. Thank you for these…the noticed and the unnoticed moments…where The Divine lovingly awaits our gaze.