Dispatches

An Affection for Autumn

The grace of God Sees us through times of loss and change

Though I am a summer girl, I will admit to having an affection for autumn. In the southland it begins with an understated change in the light. I appreciate the subtlety as the bold summer sunshine yields to a deep blush that casts a glow over all earthly things. I delight as the muted summer breeze gains a sharp edge and rustles across the sidewalk to dance with slowly falling leaves that toil and spin in their descent. The squirrels scamper at the base of towering trees, greedily packing acorns in their jowls, and the first curls of wood smoke are met in gusty clouds by migratory birds plotting their course to more temperate lands.

There is no season as poetic as early fall, when the bounty of the ripe earth encourages the soul to drink in fully the crimson tones of nature before it gives way to the muted greys of winter. Even the language of fall is lush and indulgent.

Autumn is a time of equilibrium, when light and shadow and swelter and chill find rhythm. It’s a delicate waltz of life and death. The precious things of nature revealed in spring’s exuberance and summer’s innocence are threatened by a season that will usher in their demise. And while autumn begins to rob them of life, it also reveals the golden treasure of their beauty, the gift of a bountiful Creator. You see, the season of fall is actually the slow passing away of nature around us, but in the decay God reveals an exquisite tapestry of beauty.

My children and I, over the last several years, have journeyed through a season of loss, and I relate to fall. In autumn grief there is balance in sufficiency and emptiness, in affliction and gratitude, and in striving and stillness. It is the slow unveiling of the other side of loss, a reminder of what it is to live in the fullness of possibility, meaning and hope.

The earth’s autumnal transformation is without measure. The forest becomes a symphony of copper and crimson, a stunning and palpable transition from summer to fall. The passages of grief are not as clear, but equally remarkable. The grace of God, the Season Changer Himself, is evident in the different paths to mourning and in the return to resilience that is autumn grief. And as I look around at the unfolding of summer to fall, I can see the seeds of the future. Planted in loss they are curious, expectant and patient – for something new is coming our way. Surely the delight of harvest belongs to those who withstand the sting of sowing. We are assured of this in the 43rd chapter of Isaiah the 19th verse: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Tucked within the peculiar season that is autumn is the delicate juxtaposition of sumptuous beauty in the falling apart of life. And so is my affection for autumn, for in it I can see God the Healer’s breathtaking ability to paint beauty out of dying.

It is fall, crisp, melancholy and honeysweet. It is fall, and it is exceedingly welcome.

Major Lori Miller is assistant Women’s Ministries secretary/Community Care Ministries secretary for the Kentucky/Tennessee Division.

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