Today, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!
Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.
Why did this little occurrence upset me so?
The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!
There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.
And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.
And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…
So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:
Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall
Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.
When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”
The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.
And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.
I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.
You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.
And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.
But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.
Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.
And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”
If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.
We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons. And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.