It’s steadily fall now.
Even I can admit it, a summer-loving girl who hates to kick the flipflops to the dusty back of the closet. The light is lower each afternoon, the mornings darker.
The seasons have turned again. I’m trying to soak up what’s good about this one. The splash of colors on trees, the clarity of sunlight through bare branches.
Autumn is a beauty to behold. We only need to appreciate its brilliant golds and reds. The startling turn of trees from one day to the next.
In spring you have to search for the spectacular. Be willing to get your boots mucked in the boggy earth, your fingers muddy in the cold dirt and meltwater to uncover its raw becoming.
But autumn is unearned. All nature’s work, our gift.
You can take it all in from the passenger seat.
. . .
For months now I’ve been living off-season.
I wrote the Blessed Is She Advent journal this summer before Benjamin was born. I’d wake early, the house already flooded with outrageous June sun. I could write and write and not grow weary, so much energy in that new summer light.
It was a stark contrast to dream of December with the children just home for summer vacation. I’d dip into writing, all Advent expectation and holy waiting, and then I’d slap sunscreen on three scrawny shoulders and we’d all scramble outside to play.
But a funny twist happened. Once I finished writing for Advent, I couldn’t wait for it to be December. I was impatient that the rest of the world hadn’t caught up yet, and now I’d have to wait.
This weekend I finished writing the Lent journal. I sat in Mass on Sunday morning and realized: strange. I’m already hungry for February to begin.
It feels so good to anticipate again. For months and months – more than a year, honestly – I was only treading water in grief’s forever-present. The murky dark from which it’s too far to see into any softer future.
I figured that what I had left was now. Death had stolen what I loved, so all I could do was try to survive in the moment.
But the heart is made for longing forward. I’d forgotten this.
Even in pregnancy-after-loss, I was so terrified we’d never reach the finish line with a healthy, living baby that I never let myself daydream long about what the future would be like. Any day that baby was alive within me had to be gift enough.
Then he was here. And he was safe. Suddenly the breath I’d been holding for months, barely eeking by on the thinnest air, let go and blossomed into summer hope.
And we emerged from the newborn cocoon to discover it was fall.
It is always a shifting of seasons, this life after loss. Maybe this is simply what it means to be human, but I feel its truths more sharply now. Bright reds and vibrant oranges of autumn, not the subtle shades of spring.
It’s easy to romanticize this turning. Those who resist moving far rhapsodize about the down-side of endless swaying palm trees: I’d miss the seasons. Would I?
Every season holds beauty, but each knows its dangers, too. Here in the Midwest, spring’s thaw swells rivers into swollen floods. Summers are pierced with tornado warnings and wailing sirens. Fall rolls in ferocious thunderstorms. Winter is coated in black ice, snow-buried roads, bone-chilling cold.
But every season – natural and personal – holds beauty and terror together. The tension is unavoidable. But so is the good it produces. Without the long sleep of winter, nothing blooms.
Maybe it’s all Ecclesiastes: turn, turn, turn, and we need each shift. But we also need to anticipate the turns with hope, not fear them or forget that change is the rhythm that creates us. We are seasons.
Perhaps there is a hint of each season hidden in the others. That one warm day in March that revives our hope in spring around the corner. The first brisk wind in September that beckons in fall.
The waiting of Advent and the longing of Lent all wound into Ordinary Time.
. . .
If you want to join us this Advent, grab your Blessed Is She Prayer Journal before they’re gone. (Those of who live for the thrill of the last minute – yours truly, cough – would do well to know that we’ve already sold half, so don’t wait before we sell out again this year!)
The “In the Beginning” journal takes us through the beginning of each of the Gospels as we learn what they can teach us about Advent, the start of the Church’s liturgical year. I made it simple and inviting for the busiest month of the year (because who needs one more thing to stress about in December?) and you can learn more about it here.