By Pastor Larry
The seasons come and go each year: spring, summer, fall, winter. You probably have a favorite season that you await with anticipation. You may enjoy the new life the world presents each spring. The long summer days may be more to your liking. You may enjoy the colors of the trees during the fall. Winter may be a time that you enjoy, as you watch the snowfall cover the earth.
I will confess that my favorite time is fall. I enjoy watching the foliage as it sheds its summer life and morphs into shades of red and yellow and brown in preparation for dropping to the ground in order to resupply the earth with the nutrients needed for continuing the cycle.
As much as I love the colors, there is something I love even more. It happens unexpectedly each year and yet, I anticipate it, knowing it will happen. In my Junior and Senior High years, and into my college years, it would usually happen as the band was rehearsing for a weekend ballgame or band contest. Since those days, it is most often when I have been out raking leaves or doing some other outdoor fall task. The warmer clothing worn for the cooler weather enhances the perspiration that comes with the physical labor, and then it happens. A brisk wind comes along and sends a shiver throughout the body, and suddenly, I feel invigorated. It is as if all of the cares and stresses are shaken from the body and mind, and everything suddenly feels fresh. That marching band routine, or that pile of leaves, are no longer images of drudgery but are now goals to be accomplished. There is now a new outlook on everything. Mundane tasks become less so, as home and job responsibilities are undertaken with a renewed appreciation for why they are important.
My body, my mind, and my soul need this. For whatever reason, this is the time that I feel a closeness to God and God’s creation. I need it because too many distractions have entered my life that interferes with the relationship I most desire with God: the daily routine of getting the next event planned, or thinking of the impending programs, or remembering things that I wish had gone better. These and so many more things need to be re-envisioned in light of their true purpose. That momentary chill awakens the need to do just that; rethink all my priorities and put them in a proper perspective. I realize that the renewed vision has very little to do with that sudden shiver, but it does serve as a reminder that some changes need to be made, just like those going on around me. The trees are shedding their leaves in order for new growth to come in the future. And so it is with me; shedding what has gone before, so the future can become the focus.
Shirley Erena Murray penned the following hymn describing just how I feel when the moment comes.
Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed.
Clear the chaos and the clutter,
clear our eyes, that we can see
all the things that really matter,
be at peace, and simply be.
Silence is a friend who claims us,
cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us,
knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking,
lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking,
finding scope for faith begun.
In the Spirit let us travel,
open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel,
celebrate the space we gain:
there’s a place for deepest dreaming,
there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming
there is always room to spare!
©1992 Hope Publishing Company
Lest I give the impression that I have always understood what was happening to me in that special moment, it was years before I could discern the exact impact on my life each time. Only through many seasons of experiencing the renewal did it become clear how I was being affected. There are other ways throughout the year that I experience something like this, but this certainly is the most consistent. You may have a moment such as this in your life. You may recognize it for what it is and celebrate its arrival. You may have such a moment but have never taken time to consider that it is, or can be, a pivotal moment in your life. Reread the hymn above, especially the first stanza, and then look for your “room for hope to enter….be at peace and simply be.”