August Ambivalence

After all these years I have finally come to name that August is a tricky month for me to navigate. The letting go of one season and leaping into another is ever present in my heart.   The ending of all the long anticipated summer plans and the return to the routine of a fall schedule brings ambivalence to ripe bloom.

Living in the Northwest has proven to build character in every season. Summers often are such that you put on a pair of shorts once just to say you did.  Sundresses get worn about every fourth year if you are fortunate.  But this summer, oh my, it was the best of our fifteen years in Seattle, and I think it has been the best of my life! The sunshine has been amazing. I call western Washington a manic depressive state. We eat dinner at 9:30 outside in the summer evenings, and in the winter it’s dark at 4:30 and we want to go to bed by 6 pm. I never realized how deeply connected our bodies are to the sun.

Twenty years ago my husband and I began going to a Five Element Acupuncturist to boost our immune systems and help us navigate life with more balance and joy. The five elements are water, fire, wood, metal and earth. These elements are templates that help define our bodies and personalities. With the correct diagnosis of your dominant element the practitioner is able to treat your body for optimum health. I am an “earth” who loves nurturing and making sure everyone is happy. It’s easy for me to get lost in the shuffle while the needs of others dominate. The season of earth is late summer, the time of bounty and harvest.

One acupuncturist I went to mentioned that it is not uncommon for an “earth” personality to forget to harvest her garden. Well, that was an “ah–ha” moment for me! I quit having a vegetable garden, since we weren’t eating the vegetables, and cut down eight fruit trees because the deer and raccoons seemed to eat all the fruit. It simplified my life and gave me a lot more time and space to do other things. Amazing how one sentence can change so much.

The highlight of my summer was having our entire family together. It was a lot of work and meals. I found out that communal living for three weeks is harder than communal living for a year. Routines take time to develop. Without them, intensity runs rampant. Trying to treasure our son and his family after they have lived abroad for a year is easier said than done, at least by my standards. To excuse myself and sit quietly and pray was essential. I was mindful of the all too soon end to our time together.

The sweetest moments of summer were a full 24 hours of being alone with my 11 month-old granddaughter. No one else was in the house. No one needed me. Elsa and I were alone and her wish was my command. Easy. Priceless. A giving over to simplicity and delight I still relish in my heart.

It is late August and the rhythm is changing.   Our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter are back in Albania and our only connection is a weekly Skype call.  I went to church alone this morning. Our grandsons have their backpacks ready for preschool. Our daughters are busy with their careers and family. My husband’s academic schedule signals rigorous changes to the joy and spontaneity of summer.

I have learned to know that now is the season to remember with gratitude. Now is the time to harvest the bounty even if there are no fruit trees or garden.  It is a discipline that is daily and during this month of August, for me, might need to be hourly. Now is the time to know and remember that God sees, that He is Lord over every detail of my life. He knows the ache in my heart.

Yesterday the sun and beauty brought tears to my eyes. I kept shuffle on my I-pod and heard the songs of my life played. I spent hours polishing my grandmother’s, mother’s and mother-in-law’s silver and brass. Their houses long sold and a few keepsakes shipped out west are now ours. I loved the menial task of polishing and rubbing and seeing the transforming results. It was a time of remembering their lives, their homes and my life. It was a time of remembering His bounty given to me, the greatest gift of all, His life. May this be a late August with no contempt for the swiftly passing season.  May I be a woman who sings, with gusto, “Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.”

Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!