Like tilling soil for planting, prepare to grow in faith
Whether you love autumn or dread it, there is a purpose for this season in our lives.
Special to The Seattle Times
Faith & Values
Autumn officially arrives this weekend. For many, this is our favorite season of the year. Leaves turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange. Nights are cool, and sweaters, cords, socks and sandals resume their place as Northwest fashion fare. What is not to like about our favorite fall sport? The 12th Man has gone wild, and the Hawks are tearing up the field.
Autumn is a time to attend to the nest. Since we will be spending more time inside because of inclement weather, we want our homes to feel warm and inviting. I have wonderful childhood memories of autumn. Our family spent most weekends around the fire, watching football and reading while wonderful smells from the kitchen filled every room.
Those who garden know autumn is the season for cleanup and preparation. Most of our gardens are winding down for the year. Season-ending fruits, namely apples and pears, are now being picked. Old vegetation has to be pulled and leaves raked, and raked again. Yes, all those gorgeous leaves will fall and eventually need to be picked up lest they clog our street drains during the rainy season.
Autumn is the time vacationing Christians return to church after taking a break for summer. While we seem to need periodic breaks from organized religion and the institutional church, it is comforting to know God never takes a break from us. Even in those seasons where we hurt others, settle for less than our best and turn our backs on those in need, God loves us and forgives us. The hard part is forgiving ourselves and finding the courage to try again.
Sunday Schools, bible studies, and youth groups are back in full swing, and choirs are again tuning for praise and worship. Fall is the season when church offerings rebound from summer’s meager fare. Many churches celebrate those returning from summer leave with homecoming celebrations.
As someone who likes to plan, I appreciate the forward thinking that is necessary in order to have beautiful spring gardens. Now is the time to plant bulbs for spring flowers. Tulips, daffodils, and crocus need the rigor of cold weather in order to bloom. Without the cold and frost, these bulbs will not bloom to their full potential in spring.
The same is true for us. When faced with challenges, we find ways to rise up and even soar above the obstacles. In the recent recession, middle-class families as well as others, had to reach back and find extraordinary strength to weather unemployment, underemployment, foreclosures and lack of health care. But it is only through adversity that we know our real strength.
Some plants are now ready for their fall pruning, while other beds will soon be covered with compost to protect delicate roots from frost. If this is your season of pruning, challenge or loss, do not despair. It is just a season that eventually will pass. While going through trials, make this your season for reflection, quiet time, and worship.
Remember to give thanks for all that is going well and the challenges, too. It is easy to dwell on the negative and what is not going right. But in the grand scheme of things our blessings are abundant even in times of loss. Worship with others who have weathered adversity and made it through. Yes, it takes a village to help us maintain balance, sanity and hope.
There is a purpose for the autumn seasons of our lives. Clean out the debris that is holding you back whether they are people or things. Make preparations for your next season of growth. Know that God’s protective angels of grace and mercy will cover you in this season and the next.
The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to email@example.com
About The Rev. Patricia Hunter
The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and an employee-benefits specialist for American Baptist Churches in the USA.