We are enjoying a lovely autumn here in North Texas. Of course, it’s December and was 80 degrees a couple days ago, but . . . Texas. Along with the emergence of Christmas decorations, we’ve watched the leaves turn bright oranges, reds, and yellows. Usually, our leaves turn brown and then fall off the trees without much fanfare, so it’s been quite noticeable. We may not rise to the level of a New England fall, but for us, it’s something new and exciting. Almost everyone I know has commented on how gorgeous the trees are this year. News articles have explained the weather combination that has produced this phenomenon, but the specifics are not important. The special part of this fall is that this brilliant display has created a moment in which we as a community have been stunned by beauty.
Then it rained two nights this week because . . . Texas. Most, if not all, of the gorgeous leaves fell to the ground as a result of the strong winds and rain. My husband Ben raked for hours one day only to have the yard covered in leaves again the next morning. Now, everyone had a common complaint about the seemingly never-ending task of raking all the leaves. I think there’s value in expressing a shared frustration. We learn we aren’t alone because others feel the same way. We may find inventive ways to deal with the situation or comfort in the slog through the project. Venting to trusted friends or family can provide an emotional release that’s necessary to move forward. And move forward we must. It is so easy to be overwhelmed in the messiness of life but sharing our struggles can provide a path to better days unless we stay stuck in our complaining and mired in our misery.
While I think complaining actually can be a good thing, I loved the common feeling of appreciation we collectively felt when the leaves in their glorious colors were on full display. It felt almost magical. I don’t think we have enough opportunities to celebrate all together. Sometimes, we seem so divided, there feels like we have little hope of sharing in the same joys. Even at the holidays, when we’re called to focus on peace and love, there is so much hatred living in the world. We can become disheartened and hopeless. It can feel as though the discord is too heavy a burden, and we will never find solace in our communities.
But maybe, we can watch for ways in which we can find commonality with others. Not that we should dismiss harmful behavior – we must continue to hold up that which is good and loving and condemn actions and words that produce hate. Perhaps though we can concentrate on that which draws people to love and light. Maybe it’s as simple as noticing the leaves or a beautiful sunset or a kind gesture and then bringing others’ attention to those things. Let us try to find ways to highlight common experiences that bring out the best in our humanity. Enjoying that connection with our fellow humans may create a little magic that lasts long beyond the moment and propels us into a better future.