First time to don my recycled Goodwill parka on this chilly late October evening.
Watching the trees shed.
A blanket of leaves today, snow tomorrow?
Soon, shovels replace rakes.
Dark shadows descend before dinnertime.
Buckled in my back seat three lively, talkative friends do the math on birthdays for Leap year babies as we drive to swim class. We arrive at the local middle school where I’ve been a seat warmer in the bleachers for 20 annums watching my Aqua babes grow into level 5 graduates one year, one level at a time. Familiar spaces possess their own unique aroma fingerprints. I take my place in the stands and smell that I am home.
So we are on the cusp of fall turning winter here. Just one more gusty night will blow the last of the leaves, golden trimmed in red, off our maple out front.
Old man frost nips at our heels and the clock is about to steal another hour away from our Midwestern daylight.
Farmers plow feverishly, harvesting the last of their produce. The apple trees at Robinette’s are pretty near stripped.
Canada geese squawk overhead in migratory parade.
Corn stalks are shriveled and barren. Dying.
The wind whips up a gale on the great lake, waves crashing over the pier.
I feel like a patron at an art exhibit. On display: The glory of God. It’s everywhere in the sights and sounds of autumn and after thirteen years away, the child in me has awakened and I am all awe and wonder at the fresh new mercies gift wrapped by my loving Father for each new October day.
The Teacher tells us in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season.”
Something begins and then it ends.
And it’s not just nature that repeats the cycle.
All of life synchronizes around beginnings and endings.
A few weeks ago, Lily and I packed duffles, waved goodbye to the mitten and ventured down to Northern Indiana’s Amish country one Indian summer afternoon. Sharing the road with horses and buggies and the plain clothes people who ride in them, I glanced over at Lily in the passengers seat, ready to explore together a lifestyle mysterious to me, but she was sleeping , breathing deeply, methodically. That day, she was riding shotgun but sometimes she’s in the drivers seat. Wasn’t it yesterday I buckled her into her car seat after a knock down drag out struggle of the wills? Safety versus freedom. And in my world, safety always wins. Back then I could overpower her with size and strength. Not now. I glance at myself in the rear view mirror. There’s that silver crown again and it’s mine. So are the creases between my eyes and the flabby chin. But she’s beautiful, long and slender with a silky, golden braid and a chiseled chin. And she’s bright and talented and hard working. So much potential. A future and a hope.
She’ll graduate in May.
Another ending and then beginning.
So we’re on a mission, searching for a place to spend her next season.
Where she will fly to when she jumps out of our nest.
Where she discovers herself as a distinct individual.
Where she shares that person in community.
The next place where God will meld His fresh, new mercies for each day with her particular story.
So I drive
and project ahead counting how many nights I have left to walk into her room and kiss her sleeping cheek goodnight. In ten months, that Michigan bedroom she prayed for all those years will be empty and she’ll be gone.
And I remind myself to savor what I have while holding it loosely, because the winds change,
And I’ll have to let her go….
And I hear Nichole Nordeman singing:
Even when the trees have just surrendered to the harvest time,
Forfeiting their leaves in late September and sending us inside,
Still I notice You when change begins and I am braced for colder winds.
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn.
And I breathe in, Beginnings and Endings….
And out, Endings and Beginnings….
And I recall the mercies, fresh and new for every morning.
Like the first snow of winter falling gently, settling into the deepest crevices of my spirit.
I know it’s true that
He makes everything beautiful in it’s time. Eccl. 3:11