Another year has rolled by and we stand, once again, on the fringe of Fall, a season of golden sunlight and nippy air. The change of seasons is a time to reawaken ourselves to what is stirring around us. It is the change of seasons reminding us of cooler days or longer sunlit hours. Trees changing to fiery hues or popping with springtime buds. In Winter we are called to rest; Spring, a time of awakening; and Summer, a season of vibrant growth. But Fall; Fall is the blessed season of transition and preparation.
I’m always amazed at the way Fall bristles in with a flurry of hustle and bustle – busy days winding from one happening to the next. As a mom, school begins and extracurricular activities pick up. With the highly anticipated crisp air, local festivals fill each weekend. They beckon to come, buy arts & crafts, eat caramel apples, take a hayride, buy a pumpkin. In a blink, Halloween arrives and delights. Then, it seems, Fall is over with Christmas nipping at our heals. Thanksgiving, a day of to count our blessings, has become overshadowed by the rush of all the extra stuff we take on to ready ourselves for the perfect Christmas. Yes, the rush of Fall can bury us under a pile of leaves if we aren’t careful.
I can’t help to consider forgotten generations of long ago and the way they may have walked through their Fall days. I imagine them being a bit closer to the earth and I wonder what their experiences taught them. Our ancestors didn’t have the TV or Internet to guide them. Rather, they gathered in community and shared stories. They had a keen awareness of what was happening around them born from a reverence for God, animals and elements. They must have watched the animals for their own safety as well as to learn from. Observing the sun and stars shed light on the changing seasons. The life cycle of plants and trees helped their understanding of their own life cycle. And, in all of this, they saw the majesty of God’s handiwork. I’m sure they had less temptation to lead a “fun, busy” life but, instead, were closer to the Spirit of God because the only way to get work done was by their hearty bodies, often, in the great outdoors. Was the rhythm of work, celebration, rest and prayer the four main components guiding their way?
As I consider Fall a season to learn from, the way I believe our ancestors may have, I believe it can be a guide for my own life. Fall is a relief from the heat of the summer. The green leaves change to a range of bright yellows, deep reds & burnt oranges. As the leaves are changing and gently falling off the trees, I am gently folding my summer clothes indoors and taking out my heartier sweaters and jeans. Fall is a season of slow transition. A transition leading to the hibernation of animals and bare trees. How do I tune into the season of Fall and learn about transitions from Mother earth? What is transitioning in my own life?
First, I need to slow down long enough to notice the natural transitions of Fall in my midst. Walking outside in my neighborhood helps me notice. Listening to the birds, I realize they do not merely tweet. They chirp, warble, squawk, talk, sing, delight. They make sounds I can’t describe and I wonder if they are singing their last summer songs before they head south for the winter. I smell the first scent of smoky Fall air. Sticks burning, crunchy dead leaves alit send out an announcement of ashes created. I notice a mama deer aside her babies munching on summers’ last green grasses. Our own grass fades and humidity dissipates. Simply slowing down long enough to take in the enveloping sights, sounds and smells connect me to my environment in a refreshing way.
When I slow down, I notice the gathering and tending of nature occurring around me. The animals gather food to prepare for the winter. Squirrels hunt and store acorns, readying for their long winter to rest in their nests. Mother earth grows thicker fur on the animals who will take the brunt of cold, winter conditions. Hibernating bears prepare by eating a bulk of food and storing extra body fat for their long, sleepy winter. Trees, too, prepare for their winter dormancy with the dropping of their leaves and a slowing of their metabolism.
By taking a morning to ease into my day and notice the shift of nature, I see how natural surroundings can teach abundantly. Consistently, there is something in life transitioning. From taking a look around at nature, I am soothed by the echo of change in my vicinity. I’m not alone. If I am willing to receive it, the natural world comes alongside to enlighten my evolving life. Mother Earth prods me to reflect, “How am I gathering, tending and preparing for the transitions in my own life?”
In a simple way, I make lunches the night before so the mornings run a little smoother. I make a batch of soups and freeze some for a future cold winter day to bring myself ease on a Sunday evening. In greater expansion, I gather memories through writing and taking photos, tucking them away to bring out on a rainy day. I round up family regularly for dinner, committed to sharing stories and life together. I read and learn so I can store up knowledge committed to living my best life. I tend to the next season by diving into Scripture and contemplate what it may mean for my life now and how that same story may change meaning for me in ten years. I save and put away finances for the next season of life. I write down my wishes for what is to happen to me in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Our days have long changed since our ancestors roamed a less industrial, more raw earth. Yet, the invitation of Fall remains. An invitation to slow down, notice, gather and prepare for the next season to come. May we take the bold step to say “Yes” to the summons of Mother Earth and the majesty of God. Amen.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
– Psalm 95:3-7
Consider taking a walk this week outside without the distractions of talking or listening to radio. See what you notice. Pray a prayer of praise to God.
With a Friend:
Name an area of your life where you are “busy”. How can you slow down to savor the active part of your life?
With a Child:
Name your favorite season. Tell me what you love about it.