At the first hint of chill in the air, I couldn’t help but grin. Autumn this year feels full of promise, a chance at change. Summer has been sweaty and stagnant and long. I’m surprised at how long it has felt, this heat. I’m ready to start the regenerative process, tp watch the leaves die so they can wait and then grow again, to smell a distant wood fire (magically, somehow, in the city), to wear layers of warm cloth, to knit things, to shuffle down the sidewalk in my clogs feeling rosy-cheeked and beautiful, full of secrets. I like wearing sweaters, okay? I feel most myself when wearing socks! I enjoy a warm beverage held by a cold hand! I’m ready, world! Give me 55 degrees. Give me winter even, I’ll take it. Wake me up, give me shivers, let me feel the air again, the way it’s all around me even now but I don’t feel it one bit!
Give me something new.
Another perspective. We are way in the middle of ordinary time, the section of the church year that no one really talks about because nothing really happens in it. I always sort of forget about ordinary time because you’re sort of supposed to forget about it. It’s the time between. It’s ordinary. It’s quiet. It’s the sweltering summer, the tiresome work-a-day, the long walks down long sidewalks with nothing much in mind, and, finally, the fade into autumn. Glorious autumn. Ordinary time like air. It changes without you needing to do anything to change it. Hot air to me feels absent, unmoving, unrelentless. The air, all around me, the most ordinary. So ordinary that I forget.
But ordinary time is important. Ordinary time is essential, really. It’s a little breather from all the feasting and fasting, the high holy days and the desolation of Lent. It’s time to regroup and let God seep in, a thing I’ve been pretty bad at these ordinary days. I don’t want to be just holding my breath till Advent, skipping the gift of ordinary time all together, hoarding my holiness and focus for when it actually counts, for when I have reason to think on God. I’m going to try to take another stab at ordinary time, now that the air is getting cool, at letting the ordinaryness be holy too, of seeing something beyond earth in the earthiness of the world, at inviting God into my sidewalks, my tired shuffle, my delight at yellowing leaves.
The air is changing, and the first hint of cold in it shook me out of some sort of settledness. The ordinary things are always here, but are now shifting toward something magic, the coming of something long waited for, almost imperceptable need, a quiet, growing longing. I don’t want to miss the change. I want to feel each degree of difference.
Give me something new.
Here is a small collection of songs for ordinary walks in cool air. These songs bid me keep walking, help my feet move. They sound best when you’re wearing something wooly, piped in through earbuds. Or in a parked car. Or played while making tea. They’re songs about quiet longing, about looking for things, about remembering, about waiting, about hoping. All the things we all do in the fall. All the things we all do all the time, if we are honest. All the things ordinary time carries. Find and follow the playlist on Spotify here.
- Blindsided. Bon Iver.
- Oh God Where Are You Now? Sufjan Stevens.
- Tear Down the House. The Avett Brothers.
- Shaker Hymns. Dry the River.
- America. First Aid Kit.
- Sanguine. The Avett Brothers.
- The Night We Met. Lord Huron.
- Panning for Gold. Ben Sollee.
- This Old Routine. First Aid Kit.
- Josh McBride. The Head and the Heart.
- Animal Tracks. Mountain Man.
- I Don’t Know Where I Stand. Joni Mitchell.
- I Met Up With The King. First Aid Kit.
- Reford (for Yia-Yia and Pappou). Sufjan Stevens.
- Songs from “Friday Afternoons”, Op.7: Cuckoo! Benjamin Britten.
- Goshen. Beirut.
- For You To Be Here. Tom Rosenthal.
- Homeward Bound. Simon & Garfunkel.
- Conrad. Ben Howard.
- These Days. Nico.