Some of the worst events of my life have happened in the autumn months. My dear Mom died of breast cancer on November 10, 2006. Our neighborhood was ravaged by a wildfire on November 13, 2008, only months after we had moved here and delighted in the location! In 1997 the deaths of Princess Di, Mother Theresa, and Rich Mullens had rocked my world. Is it a coincidence that these happened in the fall? Or is it grace?
Good things too have happened in the fall: we married on Labor Day weekend (which isn’t technically the fall, I know) and we adopted a concept from Walter Wangerin’s As For Me and My House to keep our anniversary as a time to go away together, reflect on the past and make plans for the future. And our birthdays all come in the fall season, one each month, Ravinia’s in October.
God’s got special celebrations listed in his book for his people in the fall. There’s a day when trumpets blow, a new year day for his people. Ten days follow that, days of evaluating your self and confessing sin. At the end is a day when “the books are put away” for the year. I’m still working on what this one means, it’s called Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. This too is grace.
There’s the celebration of Sukkot, when the people of God remember that their ancestors lived in tents, both in the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in the time of the wilderness. God’s provision, and our rejoicing in it, sharing with others, is wonderful to celebrate. (We also celebrate Thanksgiving.)
Hanukkah is the celebration of purification of the temple, and we have in the New Testament that Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast. Remembering that he called his body the temple that would be destroyed and rebuilt in 3 days, and remembering that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, believers can use this celebration to reflect and renew, recommit themselves to God. (We also prepare for Christmas.)
He layers his graces over my pains, and healing sinks in. I hold on to his goodness. I remember to grieve, thanking God for his gift of my mother, because if I don’t remember I will get depressed and not know why! But blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Wisdom sees the day approaching and calls out to God.
Our work has rhythms, and as the fall progresses the burden increases. But taking a Sabbath rest, truly to lay down the work and delight in the Lord is a gift of grace. It resets the clock, so to speak, on our burden-bearing, making it weekly instead of seasonal. (We’re still growing into Sabbath observations, keeping Saturday as the day of rest, and Sunday for church and ministry and preparing for the week ahead.)
And I look to God for the eyes to see beauty in every moment. I should say any moment: I believe the beauty is there in every moment but I don’t quite look all the time (painful truth). Yet I have been so blessed by a blog and a book that I have taken to buying journals to give away with a challenge to others to write down 1000 things they’re grateful for! I have just gone and compiled a stash for giving away in the fall.
I am thanking God for the weather each day, foggy mornings which give us chilly weather like the rest of the country instead of our usual Santa Barbara hot fall, summerlike, and fire dangerous.
I will be looking for the turning leaves on the odd tree here and there, the ivy that turns red, the tree out front who is struggling to adapt to where she’s been replanted and has the grace of time before I expect from her any fruit.
It is a good season of faith, FALL. The fall, redeemed, has pain that is covered in grace. Thanks be to God!