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A friend shows me a beautiful potted mum. Its rich orange-red buds have burst open with vibrant sprays of sun-yellow at their center. The plant—of a variety called “Autumn Sunset”—is simply gorgeous.

“The garden center sold it to me cheap,” my friend says. “They told me it was misshapen. Too spindly. Too off-center.”

She looks at me with perplexity written on her face. “How can any plant in bloom ever be considered `misshapen?’”

* * *

I drive three hours east to enjoy Family Weekend at Nathan’s college. On my way, I notice that the trees have a tinge of fall color in their leaves. It’s an early tease, I think, of what’s still weeks away: a full palette of autumn, dripping down to paint the ground pumpkin orange, field-corn yellow, and hot-pepper res.

When Nathan and I, just two days later, decide to take a long, leisurely walk through the school’s arboretum, I’m amazed by what I witness. To my surprise, the “tinge of fall color” I’d seen on my drive has exploded into scenes like this.

Our pace through the high colors slows. I feel like I’m strolling through a three-dimensional painting by a master artist.

Nathan points out a saucer swing suspended from a sturdy branch of a fiery red maple.

“Care to give it a try?” he nudges.

I ease myself into the center of the swing. Reclining on my back, I let my legs dangle over the rim.

Nathan folds himself onto the ground nearby. He gives the swing a tender push with his toe.

Back and forth, back and forth I sway, the chain of the swing creaking from above . . . Back and forth, back and forth, the sun warming my face . . . Back and forth, back and forth, my vision climbing up through the blood-red foliage into brilliant blue sky . . .

Another light prod from Nathan’s toe.

I could lie here for days, going nowhere, going everywhere . . .

* * *

Remember that brilliant blue sky above the trees? Well, don’t look now, but it’s spitting rain.

Nathan and I are in the car, discussing our plan for the rest of the day. When the first raindrops dribble onto the windshield, we’re baffled.

“Where’s the rain coming from?” we ask each other. “Do you see any clouds?”

The sprinkles soon turn into a pelting shower. The shower becomes a drenching downpour. Rivers of water cascade off the car.

Yet bright sunshine is still streaming through the windows. And, as far as our eyes can spy, the sky remains as blue as blue can be.

“How is this possible?” we say.

We search in every direction for a rainbow. We come up empty.

No rainclouds. No rainbow. Just rain.

For ten solid minutes, the shimmering rain soaks the thirsty land—so strange, so exuberant, we can only stare at it, mystified, and laugh in our wonderment.

* * *

Having returned home from Family Weekend, I visit with a friend on the phone. A short time later, I call him back.

“I’m sorry,” I tell him. “I didn’t feel as present to our conversation as I wanted to be. I’m really tired.”

My friend assures me that, despite my sense of inadequacy, our time together had been just fine.

“You know,” he reminds me then, “it’s okay to be tired.”

Hearing those words, I tear up a little.

“Thank you,” I say. “Sometimes I forget.”

* * *

Sometimes we forget truly important stuff . . .

We forget that whatever blooms is a gift.

We forget that the source of every bloom is a birth-giver and can’t possibly be misshapen.

We forget that life can change colors—or seasons—in a blink.

We forget we can lie back and be carried, even gently rocked, as if we’re once again in the womb.

We forget to look up.

We forget to feel our suspension between heaven and earth. To feel free as air.

We forget that what’s impossible is more than possible.

We forget that appearances aren’t the whole story—that magic is always sneaking in through the back door.

We forget that whatever we’re feeling in this moment, it’s okay for us to feel.

We forget that, before long, all things (including what we feel) become something else.

We forget to breathe.

We forget we belong.

Yes, we forget. And forget again. And yet again . . .

* * *

But the world would have us remember. It puts prompts in our way to summon us back from forgetting: a friend, perhaps, or a tree. A son, or a swing. An inexplicable rain.

That’s why I’m writing you now—a prompt from the world, to help you remember something important.

On this day, what have you forgotten that you need reminding of?

Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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