Each morning, I awaken to the sound of a flock of Canadian geese flying directly over my house, as they make their way from the cornfield on my east to the wetlands in the west. And in the evening, I watch as another flock returns to bed down for the night. This will go on for a month or so and then they will move further south for the winter. For me, the sound of geese honking is a signal to begin to “gather in.” The screened windows are now shut, soup is once again on the menu and a fire burns in my kitchen fireplace. As the years move forward, “harvest time” seems more personal, it is something that is happening not only in my neighborhood, but also in my soul. It is a gathering time.
Even though my nest is hardly empty, I feel the change in the air as my own flock has headed south and east and to the mountains, flying over my house now, on the way to beds of their own. Fall leaves me with a happy feeling, a comfortable feeling, a nostalgic feeling and an unsettled feeling, all captured in the mournful sound of the geese. Journal in hand and wrapped in a comforter, I am beginning to once again ponder the lessons I have learned from motherhood, gathering, preserving and storing them away. (Another of life’s paradoxes, when you finally start to get the hang of what you are doing…everyone moves out!)
What began as a list of the top ten things I learned in my career as mother, has now been reduced to one or two lessons on love, that I hope will sustain me, not only through the remaining fall season of my life, but well into its winter. In the eternal law of the harvest, we reap what we sow and as mothers all we can do is sow seeds of love. Every changed diaper, every load of laundry, every fixed meal is love made visible. Every struggle, every heartbreak, every loss expands our own hearts so they can hold more.
At this season of Thanksgiving, it is not the austerity of the our Puritan ancestors, but the overflowing abundance of the ancient Greek cornucopia that speaks to my soul. Like the horn broken from the nourishing goat, Amalthea, that became a source of unending nourishment and bounty, the cornucopia became a symbol of peace, abundance and a foster mother’s love. It is an emblem of all I hold dear in my own life. As I pull my comforter tighter around myself and the geese make one final pass over my house, my heart and hearth are overflowing.