The cool weather is entrenching itself more and more here at Lakeshore as the weeks go on. We’ve dipped into the 30s at the coolest points of the coldest nights this week, and it’s becoming tougher to stay loyal to that frugal part of us that wants to hold out to turn the heat on. It isn’t exactly cold, but there’s definitely a nip in the air. The sun has made appearances this week, but it’s also gone into hiding on certain days. These days kind of seep into your skin and bones, and you feel drawn inside to something bright and warm. It’s this time of year that I understand why humans can be so obsessed with fire. Warm foods like soup and hot tea sound so good these days. Heavy food like beans and potatoes, a warm slice of cornbread–these will fill us up enough to last through a cold night. The prospects of snuggling with someone you love can be gross on a humid summer day. During the cool, gray times, it’s an act of survival.
The shades have certainly begun to change outside. Most of the trees, now, have at least changed a little. Some are farther along than others. The Sourwoods have turned a deep red. The Sweet Gums are slowly giving in to yellow, but some of the leaves are still green. The Persimmon Trees are loaded with persimmons. Many have dropped, but there are plenty waiting just a little longer to ripen. If you get them ripe, there is a sweet, autumn spice to them like allspice or nutmeg, maybe even a little cinnamon. This taste seems perfectly timed with Fall. The Persimmon Trees know what they are doing. If you happen to get a persimmon that isn’t ripe, though, it’s a bad experience. It’s like a hyper-sour taste that seems to draw your mouth in and make your teeth feel like they will never be the same again. Sour doesn’t do this justice. Lemons and Limes are sour, and still tasty. This is bad. Don’t eat them if the skin is still tight.
Our latest group of Nomads arrived this week to grace us with work project help and friendship. This is a group of retired RV owners who travel around, staying at locations in exchange for service work. This set of Nomads have gone to work on the new storage closet outside the Administration Building and painting the Dining Hall. A storage closet is not the most exciting building we could be erecting at the moment, but there is at least some excitement to see the walls emerge and a roof be laid on top of it.
We won’t have any ceremonies for this building when it is completed outside of carrying a bunch of boxes into it, but it is a sign of growth nonetheless. The Nomads have been fantastic, putting together the framing and transforming the area from a concrete slab to an actual building. It is amazing how one week there can be nothing there, then by Friday you have a roof and walls to shelter those things we were running out of space for. The next time you see the camp dining hall, you will likely notice that it is a slightly different shade of blue than the last time you saw it. It’s funny how a different shade of paint can change a room into something new.
We are entering the heavy time of our retreat season. Groups love this time of the year for a get-away. For spiritual reflection. To grow closer to the important people in your life. On certain days during the time, everything aligns in a harmony that makes you happy to be alive. You can spend the day playing in the cool grass under a warm sun. As the day moves to it’s end, the doors of warm buildings call us closer. We’ll gather together close to our friends and family. You’ll feel the warm drink and hot food as it goes down. You’ll wriggle into a comfortable seat as the last bit of light leaves the window pane. The world is changing around you, but you know it well. You’ve known it as long as you’ve been alive.
The changes we know are coming again. Welcome them back. Share your warmth with ones around you. Our Fall guests certainly know this–on those days where everything lines up and we have a Saturday in the mid-60s with sunshine and leaves circling you on your walk we’ll tell them how good a weekend they chose to be here. Everything that happens will seemed like it was planned perfectly to match up with the time of the year. Maybe all these things the world is doing around us will make us pause from our worries and frantic activity for even just a few moments. We’ll see how all these things are moving. We feel the cool and the warm on our bodies and God will speak. The words will settle like leaves of yellow and red, more than we can possibly count.