Bonnie - being an amateur photographer and all - has wanted for years to take a "color tour" of northern Michigan during this time of year.
So this weekend, we are.
In high school, there was a teacher we were rather fond of, and one day her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his funeral, she returned to work and then one day shortly after that, as the afternoon sunlight streamed in through the windows and class was nearly over, she moved aside a few things at the edge of her desk, and sat there.
With a gentle look of reflection, she said, "Before class is over, I would like to share with you all a thought that is unrelated to what I teach, but is something which I feel to be quite important."
She looked out the window for a moment and then back at us. "Each of us is put here on Earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps it is God's way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day."
Her eyes filling with water, she went on, "So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see. It could be a scent ... freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's home, or the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way an autumn leaf feels.
"Please look for these things and cherish them. I know it sounds trite, but these things are 'the stuff of life.' The little things we are put here to enjoy. The things we often take so much for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time ... it can all be taken away from us."
The class was quiet as the bell rang. We picked up our books and filed out quietly. That afternoon I noticed more things on my way home than I had the entire semester.
[God's Work Ministry via Chapnotes]
WEBSITE of the WEEK: Staying with a nature theme, visit http://zipcodezoo.com and find out what plants or animals are native to your particular part of the world. Click "Home" and "Set My Location" ... you'll need to register, but it's free. It's also a data-rich site, so there's a lot of text, but you can get a good sense of what to look for on those nature walks.