By Jill Mraz
Untitled by cocoparisienne via Pixabay. CCO

Untitled by cocoparisienne via Pixabay. CCO

Late autumn is a contemplative time of the year. Blustery gray skies and stratus clouds rolled into tidy rows serve to sweep my mind clear. I confess to being utterly smitten with bare trees against a blazing orange sunset. Or a stark morning sky. The world outside is simplified, condensed, tidied. Waiting to be tucked in under that first clean blanket of snow. Am I nuts? Maybe. For me, this bleak landscape lends the perfect backdrop before which the creative, boundless, interior life can live and move and have it’s being. The contrast in the nature of things, be it the weather or people, bids reflection. Like how a conversation-suddenly-turned-monologue with a chatty stranger can prompt a calm attentiveness in the listener. I  find myself silently thanking them for, no doubt unknowingly, kindling tranquility.  And vice versa, I suspect. Often I walk away from these brief encounters thinking, how we need one another.

The brisk fall days culminate in one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. I have a couple of big talkers in my family, so tomorrow is not only a day off from work, it is a day off from talking. I don’t have to worry about finishing my sentences because I probably won’t get to. And, since I usually schedule my annual silent retreat for the holiday weekend immediately following, the big family gathering serves as a sort of preparatory. How blessed am I? A treat, and then a retreat. I love my family, but sometimes I think I love silence just a little bit more. Time will definitely tell, although I think I already know the answer to this one.

We will gather, as we always do, around our colorful, festive table laden with the little candles and all the good, warm food and wine that makes us sleepy and goofy, in a cozy house filled with familiar voices and lots of laughter. So many blessings. The smell of cold in the children’s hair and leaves stuck to sweaters as they burst in from the yard, framed by the darkening sky. Plunking themselves down in front of huge pieces of pie, laughing the whipped cream into their mouths, laughing and laughing. The sounds and smells of late autumn, warm and cold, bitter and sweet, the kids getting so tall. My  Thanksgiving prayer this year is to simply be with my family whom I love, who love to talk. To steep, deep in gratitude in the present moment, content to just let it all roll on, however it will.  Much like those layered clouds rolling by way up in the dark, chilly, blessed November sky. God, grant me the grace to see your gifts clearly and dearly before me this Thanksgiving. And to love, as you love.

About the Author:
nww-11-23-16Jill Mraz is a Catholic mother to one wonderful daughter. Residing in Minnesota they enjoy summer road trips to either coast, marveling at the stunning beauty of God’s natural world. Jill writes poems and essays which reflect upon motherhood  and her beloved Catholic faith. She is a contributor for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization.