Early morning sumach turning colour Sept. 2020

“Let beauty awake”, the title of one of the Songs of Travel by Ralph Vaughan Williams came to mind as I sat down to write…

These days seem so full and there is so much to learn, to do, to adapt to. Where was beauty? As autumn arrives, I feel nostalgic for the summer that was. Despite all we had to deal with, it was a summer that had so much to love–the heat, the sun, the tomatoes ripening in my garden, the careful curation of the closest friendships, the precious time spent with a very few family members. The days seemed to endlessly stretch out ahead of me. I was planning for the fall but it felt distant. Until suddenly, it was here.

With a thud and a crash, the new academic year was upon us. Now toward the end of the third week of classes, it feels like I might at last be finding some kind of rhythm, the repeated dance steps of what might be called a routine. As I go for my morning walk, I am astonished by the beauty I see everywhere. The flaming sumach, the hoarfrost on the grass on the meadow, the sleek coyote I saw elegantly streak across the road. So, too, does beauty awake in the rest of my life amidst the chaos and stress: the time I find each day to breathe, to sit quietly (if only for a few minutes), the joy of repeated vocalises that help me feel whole and full again, the evening meditation that I go to online when I can, and in a few minutes, a yoga practice with my friends that has given me an anchor throughout this crazy time.

There is beauty, too, in walking together with my students, guiding them to some serenity through song, just as I am doing for myself. Whenever I feel myself forgetting and falling asleep, I encourage myself to let beauty awake.