TO THE BEAUTY OF THE SEASONS, TO CHANGE,
AND THE PATH TO WHOLENESS
Fall is making her appearance in my neck of the woods this week. It’s not yet cold enough for warm layers, but the crispness of the early morning air signals that cooler temperatures are on their way. For now, the air is just right, beckoning me to come outdoors and spend some time simply enjoying. These perfect fall mornings have me thinking about the many autumns I have seen come and go and all the things this season means to me.
I have always thought of fall being elegant and refined. Maybe the magazine covers have made me think of fall in terms of their slender models wearing dark sweaters and tan riding boots. Those issues always arrive around this time of year, along with the marching bands and Saturday parades. Hearing marching bands rehearse in the mornings and watching them in parades draws my mind back to the days when I heel-toed around my town’s square with my clarinet each fall while the leaves turned colors.
Outside, the world is God’s canvas. He knows how to get my attention. Leaves change color from neon green to crimson and blue stretches across the expanse of the sky. Dew drops take shape in the shady grass just beyond my front porch, with crickets singing somewhere nearby. Inside, I play with my own aesthetic. The mini-creator in me experiments with gourd decor and the colors orange and brown. I cook soups and cinnamon rolls, and unpack last year’s cardigans to recreate a cool weather wardrobe that feels almost like new. The brisk autumn air makes me crave all things sweet and warm, so I go out to splurge on foamy Starbucks lattes (pumpkin spice, of course).
Memories of past September-October-Novembers and all their associations blend together into a single soft picture. Fall signals to me a gentle sense of stillness. Not the crystalized silence of a frozen white winter, but the graceful sigh of relief at the cessation of summer’s dance. I walk outside and instead of rushing to get to where I’m going, I focus on my breath, because the air has changed. I breathe and I am aware that I’m doing it, that I’m breathing and I am alive. My skin also notices that the air is cooler and I become aware that my body has feeling. I remind myself to be aware of the beauty around me, and to bask in the perfect weather for as long as it lasts because I know it won’t be here long. Fall makes me mindful.
Though I have stockpiles of fall memories, traditions and the like, this year is not the same as the rest, as no year has quite been the same as any other if I’ll come out and admit it. I would like to think that the stillness of fall is calling me to peace and pleasure, which for me means consistency and ease. This fall, I am settling into a healthy structure of work, rest, work and play, but this quiet awareness of my life is helping me to hear circumstances that are loudly begging me to stretch and grow. Their cries have me down on my knees asking for how to find my first steps. That call to grow and change is hard for someone who just wants the future to be predictable. The stretching is not easy, but stagnation is like death.
Hello, God? Yes, you want me to change? You want to make me a new creation every day? I’ll be a better teacher, better leader, better me… But will my schedule stay the same? Maybe not? Well… you know what’s best.
I think God spoke to me on my coffee cup this morning. I’ll leave you with his blessing, in the words of someone named Kris Decker (so says my mug):
In the hush of quiet moments
may God fill your tender soul
and with His gentle presence give
you peace and make you whole.
May the changing of the seasons remind us that we have the chance to be created new every day. May the growing pains not be too burdensome, and may God’s peace be before us, behind us and beside us continually as he leads us on our journey to wholeness.