"I'm so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers."
I've always held a special love for autumn, and it is likely my favorite season of all. Perhaps spending my formative years in the beautiful oak and maple forests of Illinois has influenced me unfairly, or maybe it is because I possess such an obsession for giant sweaters to burrow into, or it might even be my childhood love of hot chocolate, apple cider, and tea. But whatever the reason, the beginning of Autumn has long cast a special spell over my heart, and perhaps over my soul as well.
Dad's old warm sweaters, sleeves far hanging over little fingertips
Delicious smell of oak leaves burning in crisp Autumn air
For as each season ends in its turn and another begins, my memories crowd, my heart swells, and I remember all the little reasons why I love (insert season here). These are my forget-me-nots, the good things, the treasured snapshots, the familiar voices, the magic of home smells, and the bottles of laughter carefully stored to bless the keeper.
Kaleidescope of shifting sunlight and red maple leaves, a cathedral window of color
Crunch of the oak blanket underfoot, and flying into piles of acorn and crackling and giggles
Sharp taste of pumpkin and cinammon spice in a warm kitchen
Rosy cheeked children with straw in their hair, and red faced apples in an orchard basket
I've often struggled and wrestled with living too much in the past. Sometimes I allow my gaze to stay too far behind me, missing the here of the moment. But a memory, as it was intended, creates in us, a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. Jean Baptiste Massieu writes, "Gratitude is the memory of the heart." These little gifts that form some of our best memories, should be recalled with thanks. Ann Voskamp writes, "Remembering is an act of thanksgiving, a way of thanksgiving, this turn of the heart over time's shoulder to see all the long way His arms have carried."
Drip of honey and stickiness of melted caramel
Playing at Robing Hood, and picking cattails at Wagner's Pond
Blazing stars, treading the dance of the upper skies, sharp and clear on cold Autumn nights
But what, you ask, about the other half of this great memory sea chest? What about the things that seem best to be forgotten, the nasty things, painful things, the wounds, the scars, the fear, the emptiness, and the jars and jars of mournful tears? What of the moments in life when great was the darkness, and all in the world seemed thoroughly and completely busted? These are the difficult things, the hard things, the ones we can't bear to be thankful for.
And yet, if we trust in in the one who leads us on. If we believe what the Word says, and that God, who did not even withhold His own son from us, will not cease to give us what we need. The beauty of the fair times, when we dance with El Roi, the God who sees and loves us, is grace. And the pain of the shadow lands, where we wander clinging to the promise He gave, to never leave us alone; this too is grace. Christ before He went to death and unspeakable pain on the cross, broke bread and gave thanks (Luke 22: 7-23). He told them to do so in "remembrance of me." Remembrance and thankfulness.
We become like Moses, questing to seek after the face of the Holy One. "In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: it is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging his perfect and right will...and then we look back and see His back...God reveals himself in rearview mirrors" (Voskamp 2010).
With open palms, we accept the gift of days, of moments dark and light, and we may tell how both were grace. With thanks we eat of our daily bread, remembering the aching joy of the good times and the scars that became tools in the hands of the Master, who loves us fiercely and tenderly. We remember with gratitude, and it is in that recounting that we are blessed anew; the liquid gold of a rising Autumn sun is oil upon the head. And after we have traveled some distance, though the way was dark and pouring bitter rain, behold, we glance over our shoulder and we see His back, the glory of God passing by.
Harvest moon rising over a corn field
Tire swing hanging from the old oak tree
Bike races through the forest, noble knights on mighty chargers
Scrambling over fences, climbing maples, and racing the sun with a child-strong heart, running and laughing with friends until dinnertime
What beautiful memories do you treasure and give thanks for? If it is shadow and flame that you are passing through, do you trust that He is near, that His glory is passing by.
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