A chill in the air, pumpkins, bales of hay, colorful leaves, small town festivals and fairs, costumes and candy, long sleeves, and warm bowls of chili. Autumn is my favorite season and I am not alone. More poems have been written extolling Autumn’s winsome ways than any other season. One of my favorite childhood memories is playing with my younger sister for hours in the leaves. I would rake “roads” out of the leaves in the backyard and she would “drive” her Tonka Truck through them all with Ken and Barbie dressed up in their warmest outfits in the driver and passenger seats.
It wasn’t until I was older that I understood how the changing seasons reflect the stages of our lives. I am now in the early autumn of my life as the big 50 lies in wait to spring upon me in six months time. I miss the never ending energy and gusto of the spring of my youth. I fondly remember the excitement and first-time experiences of living through the summer season, too. All the “adult” things like the first job in my chosen profession, buying my first house and my first car, being entirely responsible for budgeting my first paycheck…and so on were exciting times. During the first two seasons of life the sun hardly ever seemed to set and youth had enough vitality to live the long days to their fullest measure.
Now, in the early autumn of my life, my energy wanes like the shortening days, with fewer productive hours to get things done. There are not nearly as many firsts to experience, either. However, what has been lost from the previous seasons has been made up for in privileges only afforded to those blessed with long years. I have lived long enough to have naturally accrued some wisdom along the way.
I’ve learned how to tell the difference between what is important and what is not, and the truth from a lie. People are more important than things. I can look back and see how God has led me through the fires and floods to safer, higher ground. And I have learned having fun is different than living a life of joy, the latter being so much more important and meaningful. Chasing after experiences does not equate experiencing life to the fullest. The fullest life is one that surrenders self in order to experience the indwelling of the living God, Christ living in me and me living in Him.
As the trees change to autumnal colors and I find myself purposefully traveling roads with hilltops that afford me a larger breadth of view so I can soak in all the beauty, I look back over my life to see the distance I have travelled. Not all the views are beautiful, I’ve not lived perfectly, just humanly. However, I can see and feel the hand of God lifting me higher and higher until the dead and barren patches are covered over with His forgiveness, mercy, grace, and loving-kindness. He calls us all to live, move, and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28). He really does make all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11)!