I have this standard that I set many years ago and each year as October throws in more surprise weather and bitter cold, I seriously reconsider that ridiculous notion. Here’s the deal, I vowed that my winter coat does not come out of the closet until after my birthday (October 25). I know it seems like a silly thing to be a stickler on, but I made a promise to myself and stick to it each year. What’s the point? The point is that I try to tell myself and rationalize that no matter how cold it gets, I’m going to hold on to autumn as long as possible. I’m a hearty (and crazy) Minnesotan, I tell myself. The reality is that I’m probably just stubborn and firmly grasp every last bit of fall’s splendor so that it can fill me with lasting memories.
It’s likely the transition away from summer heat and cherished days that give way to the new rhythms of fall that makes me feel something significant is about to be lost. The barren white of winter can have a way of hindering moods, outlooks and the enthusiasm of daily life sometimes, so I think my inner child wants foolishly to wish it away so that I don’t have to deal with it all.
This morning, after Mass, I decided I’d brave the remnants of the too early snow, rain and wind that has hung on for days. I declared that while I’d don my winter hat and a thin pair of gloves, the fall puffer coat would have to suffice as I set out for a brisk walk. While the harsh breeze hit my face first, it was followed by a brilliance my eyes could scarcely take in. The dreary gray skies let the orange and yellow lit maple trees along the driveway show off their grandeur. The cold air hit my lungs and my breath caught in my throat as my spirits lifted and my soul sang. “For the beauty of the earth…for the beauty of the skies…over and around us lies…Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”
As thanksgiving filled my mind and heart, photos I’d just seen on Facebook this morning also replayed in my mind. Scenes of knee deep snow drifted up to homes, covering fields and tractors in many areas of North Dakota. While I was enjoying the bright fall colors, thanking the Lord that we hadn’t received measurable amounts of snow this early in October, others were facing snow covering their crops that were not yet ready for harvest and that would prove difficult to get out of the field even if the time did come sometime soon.
Quickening my pace as the stiff breeze in the open area stung my legs and face, I tried to focus on the artistry of the scene before me. I raised my heart to God for blessing me with the gift of this season, rather than thinking about all the things that remain unfinished. I refocused myself as my intention to get home became more earnest, also reviving my mind to prepare for the week ahead. Sometimes facing what I like least (the cold and impending winter), will unexpectedly raise my heart in praise for what is here today, directly in front of me.
Where are you being led to see the bounty and goodness of God this fall? Has He set something unexpected before you or given you an extra reason to fill these months with gratitude?