I hope that I occasionally write something in my blog that is insightful or stimulates someone’s thinking.  Or if I’m writing about my family, I hope that it’s sufficiently entertaining that you (the reader) smile even if you don’t know us.

However, sometimes I write for myself, and all the words just sort of wander around and get nowhere.  It’s like the pensieve in the Harry Potter series.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the books, the pensieve is a handy magical device which is useful when your mind is cluttered and you’d like to remove the extraneous information.  You can get rid of the extra thoughts and memories, and come back and review them later at your leisure.  It’s quite useful when you need to think clearly.  And that’s what my blog helps me to do sometimes: clear my head so that I can think and hear and see.

This is not a problem with a journal (as my wife points out).  You don’t have to apologize to anyone for the drivel that makes it into words.  Alas, I don’t journal.  I blog.  And you poor souls who might be using Google Reader (or some other aggregator) to look at my blog get this junk delivered as quickly as I can type it.

Today’s junk involves my lunchtime walk.

There is an incredibly gorgeous tree very close to my office.  I can’t tell you what type it is, and I haven’t tried to identify it.  (It’s something decorative that was planted to enhance the landscape.)  I think for most of the year I wouldn’t even notice it.  But for a few days during the fall, it becomes a whole forest of colored leaves compressed into one tree.  The leaves closest to the trunk remain green the longest.  Slightly farther out, one encounters the yellow, and then the red.  But the red keeps coming – the first red ones are calm and soothing, the succeeding ones are almost overwhelming in their intensity.  Eventually, the red becomes a deeper, more noble and stately shade which transforms into purple.  In due time, all of these will turn brown as they dry and then fall off.  But during this week, all of the colors are present at one time.  I can’t recall other trees that are this varied in their fall coloration.

In a bit of a minor panic today, I realized that the weather would soon be too cold for enjoyable walking, so I dashed outside and began my walk toward that tree.  As it turns out, walking has some of the same pensieve-like benefits as blogging.

Lately, I’ve reflected a bit on how well I know myself.  What are the things that motivate me?  What are reasons that I believe the way I do?  How often do I frame my life (thoughts, ideas, words) in such a way that they make me look good?  How much of what I do or say is motivated entirely by the need to maintain a certain facade?  Am I able to judge myself?  I doubt it.

(Some of these thoughts were in the ‘Humility’ blog a few days ago.  I think that community plays an important part in addressing some of these concerns about discernment.  But that’s not today’s blog.)

As I walked, I also thought a bit about Friends’ Meetings.  (I’ve never been to one of their “Meetings for Worship”, although sometime I’d like to visit one.  Nevertheless, here I’m only describing something I’ve read, but not observed.)  At some Meetings, they’ll sit in silence, while waiting for someone to hear a word to be shared with the entire group.  And I wondered how the Friends judge what they’re hearing.  How do they sift through everything?  Do they ever come together for meeting and spend the entire time in silence?  Maybe they could go for weeks without saying a thing.

I wish that discernment were as easy as picking out the most breathtaking, colorful trees.  But sometimes, it is the not-so-bright ones that are native and best suited to the environment that are the ones that you’re looking for.

And that’s what we get on an overcast fall day in northeastern Illinois.

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