Autumns come, and autumns go. Year on year, decade after decade. Even so, I can never seem to get the ratio correct: “leaf bag” to “actual leaf drop”.
I tend to underestimate, of course. Five 30-gallon bags, maybe eight – that oughta be plenty to corral all the end-of-season detritus falling from the magnificent pair of maples in our back yard. But it never is. And I never seem to learn.
No matter how often I rake and blow, blow and rake, this simple fact tends to take me by surprise: I’ll need a dozen bags or more in order to finish the job. And typically, my initial short-sightedness necessitates another trip to the merchant’s, to secure an additional leaf-bag 5-pack (or two).
In my younger years, I’d find that extra trip annoying. These days, it seems a bit more like a gift from God – providing a much-needed break in the physical action required for raking even a modestly sized yard.
And today, it occurred to me that it offers an opportunity for solidarity as well – a chance to join in the Cosmic Comedy we hear Jesus proclaim in Sunday’s gospel passage:
The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones…brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
Tsk, tsk! What a goofy bunch those youngsters turned out to be! So ill-prepared, for taking on even the simplest of tasks!
And how embarrassing to admit…that they are very much like me.
Still failing, every fall, to do things right the first time.
Still stumbling in my everyday efforts to recognize and welcome the Bridegroom.
Still wondering whether I’ll wind up on the outside, looking in…because of my inability to learn from past mistakes.
And yet: Still encouraged…by the manifest presence of the Holy One, even in the midst of human ineptitude – a holy presence, ever offering us a connection to salvation just for the asking.
[Wisdom] hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate…whoever for [Wisdom’s] sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care…
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.