September is traditionally a transition month in my area, bringing the last days of summer and first days of fall, the return of students to school, and movement away from long hours of daylight to more hours of darkness. The shifts are have the potential to be subtle or stark, depending upon conditions, perspective, and circumstances.
Shift, Shift, Shift
Through the years, I have found observing these transitions to be helpful physically, mentally, and spiritually. The physical aspect comes into play as my body is challenged to rise above weather conditions in order to accomplish routine tasks, exercise regularly, and enjoy nature’s offerings. Mentally, the increasing darkness historically throws a monkey wrench into my thought process, making me step back a bit and come up with a Plan B on more than one occasion. Spiritually, I find myself drawn to the skies, constantly looking for the light to guide me on my journey.
The process of observing, adjusting, adapting, and accepting comes both consciously and subconsciously. Looking around, I can see the changes in the colors of the trees, plants, grass, and fields. I am cognizant of the gentle push nature is placing upon me. Under the surface, I may or may not be thinking about the impending transitions. In either case, time is moving me along, whether I wish to go or not.
Perhaps St. Paul had similar feelings and experiences as he stepped away from his former life of persecuting the church and into his role as proclaimer of the Lord’s work through Jesus. As he describes in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, and other groups, he faces the constant struggle of being human.
“In all things we suffer tribulation, but we are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but we are not destitute; we endure persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we do not perish; always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame…Wherefore we do not lose heart. On the contrary, even though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”- 2 Corinthians 4: 8-11, 16
Signs Along the Road
While running and biking this week, I found myself struggling with demands of the mind, body, and soul, as well as life in general. In an effort to put some space between my warring factions, I searched for signs in nature to lead me peace, perspective, wisdom, or anything helpful.
My quest allowed me to find a number of wildflowers, trees, and animals. Some of the highlights include:
A doe munching on acorns in the front yard of a house along my biking route. The doe did not seem to mind my closeness, allowing me to come within 15-20 feet to take pictures. Though she acknowledged my presence with occasional long, alert stares directly into my eyes, she was preoccupied with her own agenda. The sight made me consider how often we recognize God in life, yet fail to fully pay attention.
A burning bush, vibrant with deep red leaves. The bush caught my full attention with its colors, standing out from the surrounding landscape. Seeing the bush made me contemplate how often in life the answers we are seeking are before our eyes, yet we fail to see or accept them because of their packaging or appearance. In a society that craves the ornate, fashionable, or trendy, we miss so much because we can’t get past the surface appearance, as the following quote illustrates:
“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A rabbit with its ears straight up, as if listening to the entire world around it. The sight reminded me of Jesus asking the people to hear:
“He who has ears, let him hear.” – Matthew 11:15
White pine trees molting, or shedding their needles. The molting process is normal and seasonal for evergreens. White pines have the most noticeable needle drop with very distinct yellowing needles amid green needles. The trees reminded me of how we often need to purge or clean out in life.
In a world seemingly obsessed with possessions, it is
sometimes difficult to prioritize or give adequate value to our material objects. Likewise, with so many options for information “sources” these days, it can be difficult to discern truth from fiction, good from bad, or useful from useless. As a result, we find ourselves cleaning, donating, reflecting, or even retreating in an effort to free our minds, bodies, and souls of all the clutter.
Bright patches of late summer daisies and Rudbeckia. The delicate, almost whimsical petals stood out from the browning grass, offering a ray of sunshine to my soul. Seeing the flowers reminded me of how often in life people or nature can lift our spirits, offer a change of perspective, or give us hope.
May the days of September offer us opportunities to find what we are seeking, acknowledges changes in and around us, and broaden our perspectives. May the colors we see act as guides upon our journey, helping us to learn, grow, and share. May the transitions we make in life lead us to peace and overall wellness, allowing us to continue the cycle of giving and receiving upon our faith journey.
September, colorful and unique,
Enchanting as it unfolds like a melody,
Playing in the wind blowing
Through the trees swaying and growing
Ever so vibrant at summer’s end;
Morning rose, gold, green, and red,
Burgundy, orange, sunbeam, and violet
Etching the landscape in the river of time
Running through the days upon the shore line.
September, quiet and strong,
Entwined in nature’s song
Penetrating the clouds in the sky
To embrace the sun’s light
Expelling the shadows in the fields,
Moving with compelling zeal
Backed by God’s love and grace
Enveloping the sod as the mist evaporates,
Rolling through the paths trod upon the journey made.
September, faithful and secure,
Encamped at the foothold of time’s store,
Placed for all to see
The wake of the waves as they stream,
Ebbing and flowing, rising and falling
Moving with time’s glowing moments calling
Before the hills and dales,
Echoing a the will of nature’s sails
Rustling to fulfill God’s promise unfailed.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
2 Corinthians 4 – http://biblehub.com/2_corinthians/4-8.htm
Matthew 11:15 – http://biblehub.com/matthew/11-15.htm
White pine tree molting – http://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/seasonal-needle-drop