Season Change

We are over a week into September, and if you haven’t seen a picture of someone in a flannel shirt or sporting their first PSL* of the season, are you even breathing? 

Tired of summer’s bold and sticky attitude, wanting cool, crisp air, and all the muted color schemes, hardcore autumnophiles pulled out their cute sweaters and drove through Starbucks on September 1st, proclaiming the oncoming fall season no matter what the thermometer said. Others politely waited until after Labor Day before purchasing white fairytale pumpkins and eggplant-colored mums to place outside their front door. Some might still be waiting for September 22nd and the autumn equinox.

Despite the variance of start dates, the general public typically doesn’t fight the onslaught of fall decorations as much as the no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving protesters. Fall seems generally welcome; in many areas, the coolness lends itself to long days and evenings outdoors without the need for ridiculous layers of clothing. Fall foods tend to be full-bodied and flavorful, celebrating bountiful harvests before plants go dormant.

There’s almost nothing more breathtaking than grapevines in Napa, California in autumn.

To be honest, fall is something I’ve only experienced in my adult life. I grew up on an island 1,375.30 miles north of the equator (which is pretty close), where fall meant that the sunset usually happened closer to 6:30 instead of 7:15, and the weather changed from 87 and sunny to 85 with a chance of rain.

And this past week my friends in Denver skipped autumn and went straight from “summer” (on Monday the high was above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) to “winter” when they woke up to big flakes of falling snow.

What are your feelings about fall? Are you sipping a PSL while reading this in your flannel, or are you mourning the fresh tomatoes and days at the pool of summer that summer brings? A dear friend of mine (ok, ok, fine, a podcaster that I listen to a lot) says of seasons: “be content where you are. Lean into what’s happening around you, and don’t assume how you live now is how you’ll live forever” (Kendra Adachi, The Lazy Genius Way). Regardless of how we feel about a season, we have to live through it.

My family loves to celebrate fall with jugs of Louisville apple cider and apple cider donuts from a local market.

As we move into a new season I am reflecting on the words of King Solomon and the classic “seasons” chapter:

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 ESV)

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing**;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 

My three fall takeaways:

  1. Recognize this season – What is happening around me right now? What is beyond my control? How can I live despite the challenges?

2. Rejoice in the good things of earth that God has given (even if it’s as simple as an apple cider donut).

3. Remember that the beauties of earth point to greater joy ahead where the sorrows will be no more.

*Pumpkin Spice Latte – the token emblem of fall in America for many (international friends, please enlighten me as to your thoughts on this)

**did he know about social distancing?

The Effect of Being Rocked

When I was in my early 20’s, I spent two weeks in the heart of Mexico–Cuernivaca–for an immersion course as part of my graduate studies.

It was a formative trip for me in several ways. On a surface level, I had never traveled internationally with strangers before, and I realized the tremendous value of being able to walk through new experiences with people you love! On a deeper level, I treasured the slice of knowledge I gained about the culture and history of Mexico, including the long-storied relationship between them and the United States. I learned about the economic troubles, the civil unrest in its history, the seclusion and poverty of life in the rural areas, and the influence of American culture into the far corners of their land.

I remember clearly an old woman who came to speak (through a translator) to us eager-eyed grad students one evening. Although she had never been afforded the chance to pursue a formal education, this woman wowed us with her poise, her wisdom and her faith. She was a person who was not defined by her circumstances. She taught me more that evening than my professors would the entire trip.

I saw the hand of God that night, as he worked through that woman to reveal some misunderstandings I held about the world around me (however faulty and subconscious they were). I was rocked a bit. The construct of white, middle-class America came screaming down all around me. The individuals I met during that trip put faces to the suffering and injustice in our world, and they changed my mind and heart for good.

It was God’s grace that opened my eyes to my blind spots during those two weeks. I grew in understanding, compassion and love. He was in the process of changing me to be more like him.

As we look to 2020, we are experiencing many new things. We see people close to us suffering from a disease for which we don’t have access to the cure, we see neighbors struggling to make ends meet, we see acts of hatred based on skin color or profession… and it rocks us.

Let this be a good thing. Let this be a good thing that we are rocked. Let our hearts and minds be open to what the Lord wants to do in the rocking. Our world has been rocked this year, and some of the constructs we had are falling down all around us. Let us be eager to learn in this season.

What blindspots might God be revealing? What false assumptions were we unknowingly holding on to as truths? What does God want to cultivate in us?

May it be more compassion, more empathy, more understanding, and more love. Let us grow in those things to our brothers and sisters here and around the world.

“And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13