One fall, when I attended the University of Iowa, I went a few weeks between visits home. When my parents drove me to school, the fields were full and green. When they brought me home, the fields stood empty. Even the combines and trucks had gone home.
Growing up in rural Iowa, I’d never experienced fall without seeing harvest, that gradual dismantling of the familiar, fertile landscape one field at a time. It was unsettling. I’d seen empty fields before, with the stubbly shave they wore between fall and spring each year. The problem wasn’t how they looked. It was that, while I was insulated in the city, fall had stolen in without me noticing. I’d missed it, and now I felt out of sync, like something was wrong in the world.
Twenty-five years later I can look back and recognize harvest for what it was, a long event that was part of my transition from one season to another, one that carried me from the verdant warmth of the growing season to the stark beauty of winter. According to merriam-webster.com, one definition of bridge is “a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle.” Another is “a time, place, or means of connection or transition.”
Harvest. It’s more than the gathering in of carefully cultivated bounty. It’s a bridge, a steady, unfolding process that I fail to notice until I miss it, one that spans the chasm between heat of summer and the chill of winter.
The measured pace of the seasons is a hidden bridge which carries me gently from where I am to where I need to be. It extends some space to prepare, not just to enter the coming season but to let go of the best parts of the one fading away.
Life offers other hidden bridges, simple, vital, nearly unnoticed parts of our days. These are structures that carry our path, that support us along our road, that make the impassable way possible, that provide connection and transition. Stopping to look closely enough to actually see helps me to understand these three for what they are. Gifts. Helpers. Graces.
Fatigue: That I want to do just one more thing before bed prevents me from either getting up when I should or being at my best for the people around me. That I get tired insures that I lay down for the rest I need. Fatigue furnishes a daily opportunity for fresh starts and new mercies.
Hunger: Because my body needs fuel, I get to pause, body and soul, not for only bread but also for breath. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Hunger bestows three chances to pause between where I’ve been and where I’m headed next. Three opportunities to gain perspective before launching into the next item on the list. Three occasions for thanksgiving.
Slow Fades: Under the influence of the hardest part of any season, I think that when I’m done with the season, I am done with the season. As in, I think I could switch from one hundred degree days to fifty degree days. I can’t. It takes time to shift between the long, hot days and the short, cool ones. My body isn’t ready and neither is my mind. The seasons’ slow fade offers transition time, a space not just for hello, but for goodbye.
And you? Are there hidden bridges carrying your path along right now, supporting you, making a way for connection or transition?