‘For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven’ –Ecclesiastes 3:1.
I love autumn. Growing up in Phoenix, autumn meant a respite from the sweltering 110º+ summer heat. Autumn meant the beginning of gentle, warm 90º to 100º breezes during the day and breathable coolness after sunset. It meant trips up north to Oak Creek Canyon and buying apples from the roadside vendors. I can still smell and taste the sweetness of the crisp mountain apples that we’d eat in Coconino National Forest with our tuna sandwiches that Mama had packed.
Living in Colorado now, I love seeing the leaves change on the aspen trees and getting apples and pumpkins from The Happy Apple Farm. Last year, my 6′ 5″ 17-year-old son asked me if we could carve pumpkins. I found the biggest pumpkins available. The Saturday we chose to carve happened to bring in a cold front. Our fingers froze as we gutted the giant gourds … and I wouldn’t have changed a thing! Probably one of the last times (if not the last) I will make that memory with one of my kids.
Autumn is a time of ending. Not quite the finality of winter. More of a last burst of life and color before things go dormant for another season. We have many autumns in our lives, because we have many new beginnings as we grow and mature. We need autumnal times to shed our old selves and celebrate the dying vivid colors of who-we-once-were. Because who-we-once-were gives birth and creates the nutrients for our new growth to come. I feel God bringing on that change for me. Learning to shed my previous skin. Learning to embrace listening to the heart of God and not having to rationalize every thought and feeling for it to be valid. Learning to live with all the paradoxes and complexities of life. Like with trees in autumn, I feel the life-force inside me drawing me inward for a season.
Not gonna lie. I don’t really embrace these seasons. As an extrovert, I crave living out loud–REALLY LOUD! But, as I age, I’m beginning to understand the benefits of quietness and contemplation–especially when voicing my thoughts creates misunderstandings. Thankfully, I can offer apologies sincerely and quickly. I’ve had lots of practice (see my comment above about living out REALLY loud!). I wish more of us would learn to apologize sincerely, humbly (and not just the ‘I’m sorry if you were offended’ style). Not apologizing for our perspectives, but taking responsibility for how we communicate those views. I wish more of us could be honest when something someone says or does hurts us. The world would be a kinder place, wouldn’t it? If we could live honestly with each other, without shame or shaming–not whining or complaining or accusing–but in gentle ownership of how our hearts process interactions. If we could receive another’s heartfelt vulnerability and give that person dignity, honor and respect by validating what caused him/her to hear our words or actions in a certain way.
Yes, I know what I describe sounds a lot like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood or Sesame Street. I long for community like we saw on those shows. We should all cherish the idea that creating places with those ideals is within our grasp. Maybe we all need to have an autumnal season to allow all that we’ve been a chance to become something bigger, broader, wiser.
For now, I will watch the aspen leaves change to translucent golden and ponder what changes God is bringing to my soul.
Mmmmm. And I may bake some apple cake.
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