The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me. …
The trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me,
and my heart soars.
– Chief Dan George, My Heart Soars
I got to Martha’s (a newer Suttons Bay breakfast and lunch place) early enough to have a few minutes to sit and sip a Dirty Chai, watch the sun slant in the windows and enjoy the brightly-colored chairs while locals and tourists came and went.
There was nothing special about those few minutes: a woman having a chai, sitting in her home town, watching the leaves in the sun, and yet that unspecial moment felt so sweet to me. To pause, enjoy and simply soak in some beauty and sunlight felt like a sacred thing.
Then my dear friend arrived and we sat together, talked about our lives and the life of holiness we both strive for (he is clergy as well). He was so whole-hearted, filled with good words, humor and blessing that it took a common pleasant few moments and elevated it to something really special.
Too often the best and sweetest moments of our lives pass by in our haste.
When I was a child, we often did a simple fall project in school: pressing leaves between wax paper to preserve the beautiful and intricate colors. Hunting for just the right collection of leaves — greens, yellows, oranges, reds, combinations — was a treasure hunt that might happily consume hours. These days it seems like leaves are something to be blown and gotten out of the way.
How do we recover that sense of awe and wonder?
I think one way is to take the time to really notice, to be more fully present with our individual moments, instead of seeing them as a means to an end, a time to get on to the next thing. It means listening deeply to one another in a sunny spot with leaves falling. It means seeing each other not as a means to an end (“what can I get from this relational transaction?”) but meeting each person and meeting them in each moment with an attentive and receptive heart.
It means that beautiful autumn leaves are not just an inconvenience; they are also art.
As autumn fully settles onto Suttons Bay, as the trees prepare for their quiet winter rest, perhaps we can take a lesson: gently releasing what is ready to be freed and turning inward to listen to our own rhythm, our own breath in order to be more fully present.
So come up to Suttons Bay, go have a Dirty Chai (What is it? Ask your Barrista!), sit for a few unhurried minutes and enjoy this autumn with a friend. Something that simple, in this beautiful place, can become an authentic moment of awakening.