Today I have re-visited an excerpt from my book, Seasons, and brought it up to date. Even though we are very early in September, the title will make sense as you read on.
Looking Back at Autumn. What a strange title for the beginning of September. This Labor Day weekend has still been as hot as blue blazes here in Oklahoma, and we can only dream of cooler temperatures and falling leaves. But it will come, although not soon enough for me. So this morning I will drag out my fall decorations and transform my house from summer to autumn.
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I like everything about fall: the vivid colors on the trees; the crisp, cool air; the excitement of children going back to school; football games; pumpkin patches. I can almost smell a cigar box from my grandfather’s drug store filled with a new box of Crayolas and number 2 pencils. I love it all. I even enjoy the nights getting a little longer. Autumn is such a rich season, a season of harvest and plenty.
As I think about the seasons of my life, I realize that my autumn days are winding down. I would like to think I am in early or mid-autumn, but the reality is that I’m more toward late autumn. At any rate, winter is coming. Just as autumn is my favorite season of the calendar year, I think it has been my favorite season of life.
Autumn is a time for reaping what we have sown. I must have sown well, because I have a wonderful family, a career that I enjoy, good friends, and most important, a relationship with God. Autumn is a time for us to count our blessings and give thanks to our Lord. It is a time to reap the bounty and celebrate. Did you ever notice how many fairs and festivals there are in the fall? Something inside us just naturally wants to celebrate the goodness of the life we have been given at this time of year.
But as I write these words, I am aware that autumn is also a time to let go. Just as the trees lose their leaves in the fall, we begin to experience many losses. From something as vain and trivial as the loss of firm skin, to the profound loss of life, we must let go.
In the autumn years it is time to take stock. What is the legacy we want to leave behind? Have we accomplished everything we hoped to do? Are there still items on our bucket lists? Are we ready for winter?
There are so many rapid changes in autumn. A tree that was barely changing color a few days ago may be a vibrant orange today. So it is in the autumn of life. Change happens quickly. As I write these words, I think about how many changes Jerry and I have gone through I the past few years. Life can change so quickly. A few years ago I didn’t think twice about long days of walking through European towns. Now I wonder if my knees would let me do another trip. Jerry was fine one day and gravely ill the next. Two grand children are now married, two are in college, and we only have one grandchild left in elementary school. Changes.
Autumn is a time for shorter days and longer nights. Some days I feel like I don’t get as much accomplished as I used to. I go to bed with my unfinished to-do list swirling in my head. I need more rest than when I was younger. But I have also learned at this point in my life that some things just don’t matter very much.
While I write, I am watching a squirrel outside my window, working feverishly. He is probably trying to find a way to get inside my attic so he can stay warm this winter. Don’t get me started on squirrels! But I wonder as I watch him, “Have I put away enough for winter? Have I prepared well?” Most baby boomers are concerned with their retirement incomes, but preparing for the winter of our lives goes beyond money. Have I invested enough in my children and grandchildren that they will be with me in winter? Have I taught them everything I want them to know? Are there friendships I need to preserve? Have I taken enough care for my body? Hopefully I will still need it for a while. As I watch the animals prepare for winter’s blast, I need to think about how I want to spend the winter of my life. I would like to age well and exit gracefully. What will I do with my days? Can I still make a contribution in the winter of my life? As I contemplate retirement from my psychology practice, I want to be very intentional about how I spend my time. I don’t want to fill up every day of the week with activities, however worthwhile those activities may be. I want some time just to be.
As I ponder these things, I will be grateful for this beautiful early autumn day. They say we will have rain and cooler temperatures today. Thank you, Lord! I will enjoy the bounty of family and friends. And I will give thanks to the One who provided this good harvest.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians6: 7-10 NIV).