It’s been a gray week.
In the weather, sure, but also in my head. Getting out of bed in the morning has become a monumental effort. Work, classes, and other responsibilities are low-priority background noises. I’m distractible, irritable, not fully present wherever my body is.
It’s strange. I’m not quite myself. And it’s even stranger to be able to recognize it, to watch the disconnect as it’s happening, yet to still feel oddly outside of it.
This all sounds rather gloomy and doomy, but nothing’s really wrong. Practically speaking, it was a rather good week. I got coffee with friends. Had good conversations with professors. Completed an essay on a topic I really cared about. And there were bright moments of clarity: laughing hysterically in the kitchen with my roommates at midnight, listening to a lovely podcast, taking a walk around town when my brain needed a breather. But it all feels overlaid with a thick layer of fog, the memories dimly-lit like these early-evening winter skies.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it just is what it is. And at the very least, it’s making me more aware of the lovelier moments. Like this one.
Earlier today I was walking across campus, bare hands burrowing deep in my coat pockets in search of warmth. The breeze was on the cooler side of pleasant. I’d just left the Bruin Den, where the typical afternoon crush of students was generating a veritable mire of chatter. Escaping into the comparable silence of the nearly empty quad was like taking a deep, cleansing breath.
I was about to cross Sheridan Street when I heard it—the gentle, rhythmic pitter-patter of leaves falling to the pavement. It’s a typical scene on a campus with so many trees, so I’m not sure why I stopped. But I did.
They were oak leaves, dried to a deep autumn ochre. A particularly spirited gust of wind had blown a whole host of them off their mother-tree. I’ve always loved the shape of oak leaves—their playful, scalloped edges, they way they curl inwards as if searching for an embrace. They swooped gracefully through the air, dozens of them, twisting, turning, dancing rather than plummeting.
There were no cars driving along the street and no other people walking along the sidewalks. It felt like a performance just for me. I found myself smiling—a small, quiet, involuntary grin.
Dear reader, how do I say this without hitting you over the head with it?
This world is so profoundly sacramental. Pictures and songs of God’s grace surround us at every step. The gentle patter of falling leaves. The honey glow of the setting sun. The laughter of a dear friend.
These manifestations of grace—they help beat back the gray skies.