Around here, there are two sure signs that winter is coming: the Beautification Team comes to clean out the flower gardens, and the boilers get turned on.
The Beautification Team arrived Sunday afternoon and got right to work. All the annuals who have finished their journey are pulled out, all the perennials are cut down in anticipation of their long winter’s nap, and everything that is removed gets carted out back to the compost pile. The team methodically moves from the gardens in front, to the courtyard gardens, to the garden by the gazebo, to all the potted plants around the grounds. They also remove most of the statues and other ornamental items in the gardens and store them inside for the winter. All the empty pots go down to the garden room in the basement to wait for next summer’s flowers.
Monday when the staff arrived, they found the temperature in the building had dropped to the mid-60’s. With the forecast for continued chilly temperatures, JustBob started the process of filling the boilers and getting them fired up. By Tuesday, JustBob and his helpers moved from one radiator to the next, bleeding the air out of each, checking the valves and adjusting the thermostats to be sure all was in working order. It takes several days to check all the radiators and for the radiators to warm the building up.
Reflecting on these simple acts of service and the time so many offer to us in so many ways brought to mind something Fr. Dan shared at the retreat last week. He talked about Solanus Casey’s desire that we all show more appreciation for the gifts we receive daily: appreciation for the warmth of summer that makes things grow and for the chill of winter to give them rest; appreciation for the summer rains and the winter snows that water the earth; appreciation for the beauty of the flowers that bloom, the trees’ green leaves that offer shade, the brightly colored leaves that bring beauty to fall, and the nourishment the fallen leaves return to the earth; appreciation for the efforts of the volunteers to plan, plant and care for the flower gardens during the summer, and to clean them out and prepare them for next year; appreciation for the three boilers, hundreds of radiators and miles of pipes that heat this old house no matter how imprecisely; and appreciation for the work of staff and volunteers to get them started and keep them humming all winter long.
It is easy to take all these gifts, and many, many more, for granted. Conscious, mindful appreciation every day of all the gifts we receive combats the tendency to take things for granted.
For all the gifts we receive every day, and for the opportunity for conscious, mindful appreciation of these gifts, we say Deo Gratias!