By Paul Gomez
Like many other people, my favorite season is autumn. This is not just because my birthday falls near the beginning of the equinox, but also because the air is crisp. In some parts of the country, the leaves begin to burn into an explosive palette, constellations shift in the night sky while the days die early, and pumpkin spice intoxicates the senses. Life is starting to change – again. While overwhelming deadlines and new lifestyles are well underway, it's time to stop and remember how we got here, and where we're going.
Social media and corporate marketing illustrate the beginning of the final chapters of the year as a time to shop and celebrate with Christmas countdowns starting in August and Cyber Monday sales announced on Labor Day; although the Bible shows us that the beginning of these changes are some of the most sacred chapters. When Jesus knew the end of his story on earth was fast approaching, he gathered the disciples to break bread together one last time, thus the most revered supper in history took place. Inward reflection during the time before an extreme change is a spiritual practice that the Methodist tradition observes to this day.
I invite you, too, to pause - take a moment this season to review your memories from the past few months so that you may discover how your experiences, the relationships you gained or lost, and the work of God in your life have led your footsteps to the place they are now.
As I write this, I find myself in the middle of the hourglass. I'm reminded of my mortality between the seasons, yet privileged to look back at the time that has passed piled in the bottom of the glass, all while looking up to the possibility of each and every new grain of sand that gravity pulls.
Just one rotation around the sun ago I was gearing up for the same old stagnant year. Back to school, work, and the concrete schedule I'd enjoyed a vacation from over the summer. However, something felt different – my heart wasn't in the same place it used to be. I began to feel a need to change with the seasons, a need to shed my leaves like the trees and allow nature to reduce me to my core. The core that does not boast all of the enticing flowers and colors that eventually blow away in the wind. I needed to focus on Paul and his relationship between himself and God. I asked myself, where is my life going?
It was around this time last year that I attended a meeting out of state and a close friend shared a life changing opportunity he wanted me to look into. After noodling with it on the flight home, I suddenly realized that everything that I was doing and everyone that I knew would never be the same. Life never went back to normal. All of the sudden, the people I held close started drifting away, and the opportunities that I had worked hard to create were vanishing. I quickly began to lose hope from the sinking sand beneath my feet. It was time for prayer. I'll admit that I struggled with the thought of picking up and starting over when I had already grown comfortably into my clay pot. Nevertheless, God wanted to take me out of the walled off garden, plant me in the open orchard, and let me lay down deep roots nurtured by grace and God's word.
So I started letting go. And it's ok to let go. It may be difficult to discern what should remain in your life and what you need to make room for, but God has a way of making it clear when those things begin to remove themselves from your life. Though they may be painful to let go of, remember that your life has a calling into which you will live. A calling that nobody said would be simple. A calling that you might not believe is yours because you are not qualified. Yet, God has never called the qualified. Instead, God qualified the called.
Today, I am blooming on my own. It's not easy, but the experience is beautiful. I am so thankful and blessed to have had the courage to do something new - something that I had never done before, because God has called me to do it. God's got my back and has only surpassed my expectations; God will do the same for you.
This season you might find yourself in a new dorm, in a new city, with a new job, maybe in a new relationship status. No matter what differences life brings during this time of change, acknowledge God's hand in the workings behind it all. Look to the horizon with hope and the hardiness to rise beyond the temperate changes and grow steadfast as a tree deeply rooted in the word and grace of God.
While autumn can be associated with melancholy and endless summer opportunities dropping like leaves, it should equally be associated with the harvest. The harvest is a time to not only appreciate what God has given you, but also to take those blessings and share them with others. To share your new wisdom, love, or courage with those you hold dear and those who will benefit from your blessing.
Along with fall comes All Saints Day and El Día de los Muertos, both religious holidays set to honor the memory of those who have gone before us into the life everlasting. Even in death, we are reminded of God's love for our ancestors while we celebrate our gratitude for their lives and the gifts they have bestowed upon us.
Autumn is a special time in the life of the church and in the life of those beyond it. It's an opportunity to stand on the threshold between the old and the new. Autumn is a time to put the final pieces of the puzzle together and see the bigger picture. To look in-between the ends of the hourglass and realize the gift of your life and its fragility. Look for the ways God has shaped your life in the past and how God is molding your future. Harvest the experiences you have been blessed with and be grateful for another season of life.
In the fading of the summer sun,
the shortening of days, cooling breeze,
swallows' flight and moonlight rays
We see the Creator's hand.
In the browning of leaves once green,
morning mists, autumn chill,
fruit that falls, frost's first kiss
We see the Creator's hand.
Paul Gomez is the Manager, Hispanic/Latino Seeker Communications at United Methodist Communications. He hails from Las Vegas, NV and currently lives in Nashville, TN.
Contact: [email protected] or +1 (615) 312-3550
[Posted September 14, 2018]