Slant


Have you ever noticed how autumn brings with it a new slant of light? It seems clearer, softer and more luminous than summer light.

During autumn, the tilt of the Earth means the sun is lower on the horizon, casting a longer, weaker ray of light, hence the glow that we’ve come to love and associate with this season. This is also why shadows are longer during the fall: because of the Earth’s tilt, the Sun’s light hits the Earth at a lower angle.

As air temperatures cool, the amount of moisture that the air can hold lessens. Less moisture means fewer clouds and haze occupying skies in September, October, and November. With little to no clouds or haze to veil the sky, its blue hue appears purer, and the sky itself, more open and vast.

After a hot and sometimes dry summer when plants and grass look worn out, the sun provides this new slant or perspective.

In the running of my errands yesterday, I encountered a very unhappy woman behind the counter of a print shop. She scowled at me, gave me curt answers and turned her back on me when I needed information and answers.

My first response was internal, What the dickens? What is going on here? I hope that someone else comes to wait on me…

Sadly, or perhaps not so sadly, she returned to the counter in front of me once she pulled herself away from another job. I noticed her name tag, Adele. So, I decided to speak her name before I asked any more questions, “Adele, will you be able to print to the edges?”

“It’s NOT Adele--it’s Adelee’ (but spelled Adele).”

“I can imagine that most people make that mistake because of how your name is spelled,” I offered.

The scowl remained. Then she began to tell me how unhappy she was with her job. Apparently, she had had a difficult manager at her last location and had been transferred to the current location and demoted to counter help. “Imagine that! She slandered me, called me names and criticized me, and I’m the one who had to move. She’s still there! So,I don’t talk to customers. No one really understands…”

By this time, the light was dawning, and I realized that she really was a difficult person. So, how was I going to respond? Pull in and ignore her icy demeanor? Venture carefully out and listen to her?

“I’ve had such a hard time. When I was pregnant, the State took away my insurance. You know, I lost another baby before that. And my husband told me that if I lost my baby with no insurance, he was going to sue the state. And then, when I had to deal with being moved from my job, I was pregnant and was afraid I was going to lose that baby, too, because of all of the stress.”

I listened and took notes in my head. Difficult person, had an unimaginable loss, was displaced in her job. I actively listened to her and remained mostly silent but looked deeply into her eyes.

“The only thing that keeps me going is my husband and my faith.”

“Tell me more about your faith.” She then proceeded to explain her doctrine, which to me sounded very legalistic, narrow and condemning of others. I didn’t know how to respond, but in my heart, I knew that she needed to be set free and loved.

We turned back to the job at hand, amidst judging looks from her co-worker. My guess is that one who didn’t want to talk to customers finally felt free enough to do so, and this was looked down upon as wasting time. Or maybe she had sometimes shared with others and that was what got her in trouble before.

We finished our conversation related to my printing job and completed the order. “Good-bye Adele’, thank you for being such a great help!”

As I left the store, I said a silent prayer for her. I prayed that the Spirit of God would allow her to experience God’s love profoundly. “Let her experience a new slant on You, O Lord. This can be a new season in her life. May it be life-changing. May she know who you really are and respond with gratitude!”

Autumn, then, brings a host of visual treats with it, but none more soothing than the way it causes the world to glow with that unforgettable, soft fall light. And it’s not just a figment of our imaginations! The fall season really does cause a change in sunlight and the way we perceive it. Even our plants embrace autumn light with new behaviors.

May we also notice and embrace this change in ourselves and in others!