“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden, American writer
Some people keep elaborate sports rosters in their head. Some know all the words to Broadway tunes or whom various Kardashians are dating. I know seasons.
It’s an internal game that started the year I was 22 and a brush with bad water nearly killed me. The very day I was released from the hospital, a job dropped into my lap that was too perfect to be anything less than God. Among many other qualities, it required me to be outdoors for long stretches, soaking in sun and especially lovely air that swirled from the beach to the dunes to the forest and back again.
A slow job, it allowed me the time to not only recover from the upheaval of illness, but to discover that God is never out of sync. Ever. I saw this in the change of seasons — 10 whisper-holy months of watching fiddle heads turn into proud fern fronds, summer-blue seas turn into cool steel come winter, lemon-yellow goldfinches fade into near invisibility to match the russets and grays of fall.
There was no randomness here. There was beauty. There was order. There was a resolute progression so breathtaking I fell in love with the God who would make such a world. That near-year, so set apart from the rest of my life, was the closest I have ever come to understanding the essence of God. And, it stuck with me.
To this day, I watch. So closely, I could probably narrow the time of year in my corner of Appalachia down to a window of two weeks or so without a calendar. Within my own garden, I might be able to get even closer. I have learned what a morning glory vine looks like from day to day to day. It’s true. The switch from high summer to late summer is settling in as I write. Glorious in its inevitability.
Homer Hickam, aerospace engineer and author of Rocket Boys, says he views math as one of God’s languages. I am a writer. That is not a language that I speak. But, that year in the dunes, God spoke clearly and distinctly and I liked what I heard.
If you listen closely, I imagine you can hear Him, too.