Yellow, brown, scarlet, and orange—the brushstrokes of angels bring autumn’s beauty to life. Instead of enjoying the pageantry, I busy myself lamenting the stark wintry weather that will soon ravage fallen leaves, old bones, and the landscape. Those merry folks who embrace winter’s bite make me grumpy, honestly. Vapor rises from their breath, liberating squeals of joy, as tongues escape to catch snowflakes. Bliss for them, despair for me.
I scold myself: Do not despise what hasn’t yet come!
Still, winter arises for me each year like the wilderness trip for the Israelites. It seems to last forever and I yearn for it to be over. It feels longer than other seasons, meaner. But in the valleys of our lives, when we face dragons and demons and worries and winter, we are empowered to survive, to rise above whatever metamorphosis, whatever pit of despair or anguish, winter brings.
As leaves flutter in the breezy wind that will soon make me gasp, I ponder the philosopher’s question: Could I truly appreciate summer had I never known winter? In this body that feels every nuance of cold, I scream “Absolutely!” Just as I know right from wrong, though the boundaries challenge many in the 21st Century, “Yes!” I don’t need a comparison to cherish the difference.
But then I laugh. Taking things for granted is a human condition I can scarcely escape.
When I am still unbundled and carefree, I enjoy watching cascading leaves on that perfect autumn Wednesday or Sunday when the day can’t decide if it should be hot or cold and so it climbs up and back down that Fahrenheit scale until my closet is a mishmash of sandals and boots, sleeveless dresses and coats, sweaters and shorts.
In autumn, I like the way the glass catches the sun at my window, it’s feigning-friendly ray sneaking into the warm indoors, until its untimely eventide turns—into a blistering chill against my unsuspecting window pane. I even like it though spiders trail the sun into the nice, warm shadows of my home and spin dusty looking webs.
Autumn is that compromise between extremes, a lesson perhaps, bestowing a leafy, cool reception for winter’s gray and white affliction. It doesn’t sadden me like winter. It just disappears much too quickly.
Nowadays, seasons seem to depart faster than they come, faster than the weather that defines them. Reformed of centuries-old lore: Sun scorches. Leaves fall. Snow pelts. Rain pours. Quoth God’s seasons, “nevermore.”
This prose, these lyrical phrases I’ve written with the vain imagination of emulating my poetic friends, evokes a smile and a recollection of the romantic John Keats. His lusty spring, summer nearer heaven, autumn of contentedness, and winter of pale misfeature.
Seasons are the song of the poets. For Keats and his kin, they are metaphors for life. However, seasons, like their defining weather, cycle endlessly. Human seasons are finite. Once we reach what Keats called the pale misfeature of life—brought on, not by sunless days, but by maturity—the spring in our footstep lessens and we move closer to winter’s finale.
Manes and whiskers turn bristly and white, and eyes dim, as the autumn years become wonderful, long-ago memories. Soon, the effortless, anticipated wounds of winter will linger once too long and the curtain on our final encore falls. Goodbye, we say, to loved ones and planet earth.
It makes me sigh and smile. This juncture in my life is not fearful.
I anticipate it!
If we know Christ, we must never fear seasons of change. Even as breath becomes a whisper that fades into the universe, we are still merely evolving. We get to (yes, it’s a privilege) escape our earthly bodies and embrace a heavenly spirit. At least that’s what I believe.
Like the butterfly fleeing it’s cocoon, untouched as it makes its debut, so God’s grace, that Holy miracle we can scant understand transforms and welcomes earth’s pilgrims as we discard our fleshly cocoon and encounter our eternal home. And like the butterfly, we are liberated, declared by a Holy God to be, not sinless, but guiltless before the Creator who loved us enough to undergo the earthly metamorphosis of seasons for Himself.
In the summer of His life, He died on a cross, ensuring that when our winter expires, it will mark a new and amazing beginning—a heavenly eternity—rather than the end.
Quoth God’s seasons, “Evermore.”