I walked out of my back door into a world of wonder this morning. It was the first of the truly autumnal mornings. A heavy fog blanketed the town below us and even the wood behind our house was barely visible but there on the apple tree, the hedge and the raspberry canes were jewels. Spiders had been weaving their magic and the damp October morning had caught on the webs leaving them sparkling with tiny droplets of water that hung from silken threads all around the garden.
As we drove to school we noticed more and more spider art work and marvelled at how many spiders there must be living in the bushes and hedges around us! What really struck me is the fact that these wonderful works of art are there all the time but we don’t realise it. It takes a morning like today when nature and the spiders combine to provide us with a breath-taking display.
I love autumn and the transformation it creates. There is a tree in our front garden that spends most of the year looking like nothing much at all, but then, in the autumn, it comes into its own glory. Fern-like leaves that blend in with the hedge most of the time turn fiery reds and oranges, demanding to be noticed. For a few short weeks, depending on how strong the autumn winds are, this tree is a thing of beauty.
The world that surrounds us is full of wonder and speaks to us of the glory of God the Creator – but we need to take the time to look and listen. Do you remember the act that often used to be on variety shows on TV, people who would spin 20-30 plates on tall poles, running from one to the next to keep them spinning? I often think that is a good image of parenting and family life – we rush from one thing to the next, keeping all the ‘plates’ of family meals, after school activities, supervision of homework, work, leisure time, community commitments, sports, parish life and prayer life all spinning, nothing falling to the ground.
I think that is why I love to escape to the hills to walk. We recently did a long walk from Glenveagh over the hills, past Lough Inseagh and down into Gartan to the place where St Colmcille was born. When I’m out walking in such a beautiful place, away from the buzz and busyness of life I feel as if all of me is in one place. I am grounded rather than scattered and ‘plate spinning’. All the other commitments just have to wait.
I am aware of the beauty and the peace around me. I have a sense of how blessed I am to live in Donegal. Being in the hills is a walking prayer for me and the effects of that stay with me and continue to ground me for days.
Beauty nurtures the soul. Children have a wonderful capacity for beauty. When ours were small it wasn’t the big things like the hills and valleys of Donegal that excited them. They were more fascinated by the beauty of stones and flowers, bugs and shells. Wherever you find beauty – whether it is mountain or park, beach or back garden – why not make some time over these autumn days to appreciate the beauty of creation that God blesses our lives with.
The beauty of autumn lifts the heart but many people dread the darker evenings. People who have been bereaved or who live alone often find this time of year lonely and difficult. Are there people around you who would appreciate a visit, a chat, a cup of tea? That, too, is a thing of beauty.