Noticing, Day 31 (and Five Minute Friday): Leave

leave

Leave. It comes with connotations of goodbyes, yet it need not. This verb can also mean “to put forth leaves.”

On the sidewalks I notice that Bartlett Pear leaves begin to pile in thick crimson piles, and on the crepe myrtle branches leaves are at once less frequent and more colorful.

noticing

Gerard Manley Hopkins describes this activity of the fall as “unleaving,” and speaks of the grief attendant on it: not grief for fallen leaves, but grief for fallen humanity. Grief that, though we walk amidst earthly glory, we know, inexorably, we’re going away.

How do we live in this balance: working and working to put forth leaves, though all the while knowing they’ll fall again? (How to leave when you know you’re bound to leave?)

We have promises: these days of goodbyes are themselves going away, with each evening the number dwindles as they fall and mound — crimson and gold on the ground of eternity.

For us who cling to Christ, the going away, ultimately, is an advantage — Paul desired to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better: we’re destined to say goodbye to goodbyes, to witness the death of death itself.

And when we cling to Christ, delight in Christ? He promises that we shall put forth leaves which shall not wither: He, not we, will see to their growth and their prospering. And He will never leave us.

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Today I wrote more than five minutes on Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt as I finished my thirty-one days of Noticing. Click the Five Minute Friday button directly above to read more about that, click the “31 Days Noticing” button higher up to read more about that.

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 29: at the piano

Widget; because I noticed it's National Cat Day

Widget; because I noticed it’s National Cat Day

I used to wonder how my piano teachers knew: how they could tell which note in a complicated chord was wrong, how they could tell when I wasn’t keeping properly relaxed wrists.

Now a piano teacher myself, today I notice that I notice those things, too.

It’s a learned skill — like the things that went into learning how to play the piano in the first place. It used to boggle mind to think of reading treble and bass clefs simultaneously, of having my ten fingers doing their ten things on those eighty-eight piano keys while my eyes stayed glued to the page.

Now I sit to the side, attempting to watch the notes on the page, and listen to the music as it’s played, and watch the student’s hands to be sure she is playing correctly with the correct fingers, and watch her arms for tension, her shoulders for posture, her eyes — to be sure they’re on the music — and her foot as she pedals.

Here’s my confession: I don’t notice all of those things at once, and it often seems that I’m tuned in to the wrong things at the wrong times. But I do notice more than I used to think was possible, and that is encouraging.

Go back to that list, though, and consider: to attend to all of that at once sounds somewhat overwhelming. But our God attends to infinitely more, and attends perfectly. 

He knows the motions of my ten typing fingers better than I do — not simply that they move, but how — and simultaneously He knows each particle in the furthest-distant stars and hears billions of prayers.

Each grain of sand is counted and accounted for in His consciousness, each water molecule on its separate path from sea to cloud to rain.

He not only numbers the hairs on our heads, but also knows how they grow, knows where they fall.

His attention is infinite. There is nothing outside His notice. And for all of that grand noticing of everything, He notices — and He loves — us.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 28: pearl

pearly

Blackbirds congregated in rows on power lines under a fog worthy of The Hundred Acre Wood — a fog which melted away to reveal a morning in pink and blue like the inside of an oyster shell.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

And, yes, we are called to such willingness, called to chase this kingdom with all our resources, all our abilities.

But also, is not this merchant a picture of our Christ, the kingdom HIS pearl, bought with His most precious all?

And that truth is more beautiful than the pearliest of mornings.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 27: goodness. mercy.

Today it’s hay bales standing in calm ranks on their new-mown fields.

hay

It’s dogs frolicking in pairs in the ditches of the highways: a pair of tiny terriers, a pair of hounds, and — most improbably — a pair of Shih Tzus. The weather, apparently, brings out the joyous dogginess of all dogs.

It’s the breeze that made my swift walk through the sunshine a hint of heaven.

It’s a sliver of setting moon visible through night-blackened oak tree.

It’s the fresh remembrance of what God’s forgiveness means — what it required of Him — brought by trying to explain it to someone else.

It’s this good reminder, rediscovered today:
“If we consider the lives of the Saints, we see the strange paths along which they were driven by the Will to the accomplishment of their destiny: how unexpected and uncongenial were the ways in which they were used to bring the Kingdom in and do the Will of God: and how the heavenly Bread which they were given was given to make them strong for this destiny, and not because it tasted nice.”  –Evelyn Underhill

It’s gratitude that He so often makes that bread both strengthening and sweet; that the ways are not always uncongenial, and that even in the strangest paths, I know that His goodness and mercy attend me all the days of my life, leading me to His house, where I shall dwell forever.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 26: lovingkindness

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

Maine, October 2012

Maine, October 2012

His love does not depend on me or on my ability to compose thoroughly satisfactory blog posts every day of this month. (Or my ability to do anything at all — praise the LORD!)

Tonight, after a day in which I’ve noticed many things but can’t seem to put words to them, I am grateful to notice — to remember — this heavens-high love, which has removed my transgressions from me as far as the east is from the west, which knows my frame and remembers that I am dust.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 25: alone

Today I noticed the “thud” of my right foot answered by the “thud” of my left foot again and again as I marched down the dirt path in the woods carrying my backpack, a stick to ward off spider’s webs, and a travel mug of tea.

If you have to miss a wedding in order to read and plan and such, it looks like less of a hardship when you get to do it at a table in an open pavilion in the woods beside your house.

not too shabby, eh?

not too shabby, eh?

While there, I was much noticed by this little guy, who persisted in flying into my back and buzzing against the screens and generally letting me know that he kept on being there:

bug

which, when I realized he wasn’t a horsefly, was fine.

I noticed the “crunch” of my right foot answered by the “crunch” of my left foot again and again as I marched up the gravel driveway carrying my backpack and my stick and a handful of mail from the mailbox.

And I noticed how sunshine and solitude can smooth a weary soul, so that you feel less weary at the end of the day than at the beginning.

For these things, I am grateful.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott