It seems Fall is trying to reassert itself—trying to let us know that it is its own season and not just a Winter impostor. We had some cold days at the beginning of the week and even snow on the ground that hung around in the corners of houses and roofs that don’t see much sunshine. It warmed up steadily through the week to the point where yesterday was a great day to be outside. There are these reminders of the weather that just left, though, lingering like the snow in corners. I pulled out a towel yesterday that had that slightly rougher feel that comes from line drying. It wasn’t long ago it was warm enough to hang your clothes out and not worry about them freezing. Those days are back again, at least for a little while.
It’s interesting how we continually cycle through feelings in our life. Something happens and you feel a lot more like you did when you were 13 or 18 than what you were feeling last week. You feel unsure, then confidence rolls back around, you are in love with everything then you are a cynic, you are dying for adventure then you want comfort and assurance, you are wearing shorts then you’re bundling up. We are different then the same then different.
I walked to work Monday morning around 5am, and it had begun snowing as the forecasts had predicted. The wind was strong, and the snow was blowing straight into my face. It’s that kind of storm that makes it difficult to look where you’re going. You duck your head down and glance up every once in a while to make sure you’re not walking into a tree or into traffic. I walked at a quicker pace, but there was also a part of me that relished this. I was the only person out in it, part of the snowfall. People would wake up and see white flakes on the ground, but I saw it all go down. I know what it felt like, what it sounded like, what it looked like in the street light dropping diagonally onto these brick buildings, this grass lawn.
A campus security guard rolled up next to me, just before I got to the radio station, flashed his lights, and made the car make its little, “boop, boop,” noise. I turned and walked over to his window. He asked what I was doing out here, and I told him I work for the radio station and I’m going into work. He was relieved. He thought I might be a student who slept outside last night and was looking for shelter. I told him I wished I was asleep somewhere right now, but that wasn’t the case. Still, that cold and snow made me feel alive, made my eyes a little wider, gave me a story to tell.
I help out at the Wesley Foundation (the Methodist campus ministry) at MSU, and Tuesday night they do dinner and worship for the students. I sometimes speak, I play mandolin in the praise band, and generally schmooze with the students. Since I wake up at 4am each morning, my body is usually telling me it’s time to sleep by the time we start worship. It took me back to the days at camp, when I’d be at the end of a long day and camp would close out the evening with worship. I had been up sometimes 18 hours at that point, and my body and mind were checking out. I wanted to be present, try to make some kind of connection—but man, I was fighting hard just to stay awake. It didn’t have that much to do with the worship leaders—we had just waited a little too long. I went right back to those feelings Tuesday night, like visiting an old friend.
Devendra is a student who started coming to the Wesley Foundation this Fall. He’s from India and really enjoys the place, says it gives him a lot of positive energy. He’s teaching me Hindi, though I’m not picking it up very quickly. These few hours a week I spend at Wesley gives me a taste of the time I was a primary mentor for lots of college students in their faith and life and work. I miss that. For some reason, Devendra enjoys talking to me and has questions for me about the week each Tuesday.
I walked with him on our way home, and temperatures were in the teens. We could see our breath as we walked the sidewalks. He told me a story of how he had washed a shirt in his sink and hung it to dry outside, only to find it completely frozen about 5 minutes later. We had a good laugh. He went his way, I went mine, knowing my head would find a pillow real soon. It was like those nights I’d leave a group for the evening then traipse through the woods on a cold night to my house. Instead of the sounds of owls, tree branches in the wind, and the occasional coyote, I heard trucks revving and heating units firing. There was still that wind, though, pressing on my face reminding me I’m alive. Reminding me who I was, who I am, and who I’m becoming.