Thursday, 18 October 2012

Autumn heart

I struggle with this time of year, God.

I suspect that's not news to you. I've been banging on about Autumn and how much I prefer Spring for quite a while now. I am surrounded by people who love the autumnal colours in the trees and have a great affection for Halloween and just see the dark nights and dark mornings as an excuse to cosy up in front of the fire with home made pumpkin pie and so on, but I don't get it.

Thumbs up to Autumn like this
I see piles of soggy leaves that I drag the children out of because we don't know what lies beneath them. I see dark mornings which make getting out of bed a million times harder than it usually is (and usually it's pretty hard) and I don't like pumpkin. 

I quite fancy a huge pot or two of copper-coloured crysanthemums outside the front door but alas I forgot to plant any and they're going for about £16 each in the garden centres so it'll be make do with the straggly begonias a bit longer I think. 
I am, this morning, what my Mum refers to as 'a cross-patch'. 

So, I am persuaded that autumn leaves (heavy sigh) do look quite nice against a blue sky. Yes, I quite like walking the girls to school amid a shower of orange and red leaves on a sunny day. But why does it have to be dark by 4pm so that we have to draw the curtains and crank up the heating so early? And anyway, I can't always have a blue sky, can I?
Kick through this at your peril

So this morning, I lay in bed at silly-o'clock just before the alarm went off and listened to the sound of rain hammering on the windows. I was warm and snuggly and my pillows were just right (how come they refuse to settle into that perfection at bedtime?) and I did not want to get out of bed. I rarely do, as you know, but the sort of day that entices me to the window is the type where there is a brightness from outside creeping around the curtains. A little sparkle on the ceiling that promises sun. My bedroom faces east-ish and if there's a sunrise the ceiling above me glows pink or orange. That's worth opening my eyes for.

This morning, nope. Dark. It could have been 2am or 4am or 6am. Time for eye-shut. 

I'm having a little complain, Lord. 

As I type this the sky is blue, the sunshine is making the few apples that we can't reach shine yellowy orange at the top of the appletrees. The japanese maples are red, gold, orange, pink. The tree-with-the-name-that-I-always-forget is a deep, rich red. 

Ok, it looks pretty. I'll give you that.

This is the day that the Lord has made...
Here's the thing. I've been trying to start my day more positively. I was reading that starting a brand new day with a heavy sigh, multiple jabs at the snooze button and the thought, 'This is going to be a bad day,' is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. ('What a faithful God have I' Sept 2012) 

I've been trying to start the day with a word or two from you, and when my mind is struggling to shake off sleep and I'm dragging myself upright with bad grace, the line of scripture that comes to mind is:

'This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.'
Psalm 118:24
Oft said through clenched teeth, too early in the morning.

Today I found rejoicing beyond me. I was thinking about the school run in heavy rain. I was thinking that today was the day that the children were having school photographs taken, and they would likely be somewhat bedraggled on arrival at school. I was thinking about how warm and comfy my bed was and how cold and wet it sounded outside. I was thinking about how nice it would be not to have to pull back the curtains. Today is cancelled through lack of interest.

And yet....

There are two words I find myself saying quite often when you and me get together, Lord God.

By the time we actually left for the dash to school, the rain had stopped and the clouds were drifting apart. By the time the photographs had been taken and my two girls were deposited at respective schools with hair gleaming and toothpaste smears spitwashed off their cheeks, the sun was sending bright rays out from behind the chimneys of the houses opposite the playground. By the time I was putting the key in the front door, the sky was blue, the sunshine dazzlingly bright and the reds and oranges and golds of the falling leaves looking, yes, alright, quite pretty.

I didn't think I'd get a picture like this today

This is the day that the Lord has made. Now, I'll rejoice and be glad in it.

Before it was a bit of a struggle.


The thing is, each new day that I wake up is a gift you've given me. I'm sorry that sometimes I unwrap my present and drop it again with a scowl. Every day that you have made is a masterpiece even if it's not to my taste. I know quite well that a bit of gratitude wouldn't go amiss. I'm sorry that I'm just like a child who puts in an order for a birthday present and then gets something else from Aunt whatever who's sent something that they need instead of something that they want.

It's that time of year that everything seems to be dying. All the plants seem to be shrivelling, dropping, retreating. Even the ones that I expect to see next year are curling up and starting to hibernate. There's a finishing feeling about it all that I find hard. In the Spring I love to see the signs of new life; the bright, vivid greens that on a painter's palette might even seem unnatural. The shoots and buds and little cheerful heads pushing up through the claggy soil. Spring seems full of hope and life and Autumn is death and a shaking of the head.

But without death there can't be rebirth, I guess. You know what the cycle of the seasons is all about; I only have a rudimentary knowledge that the plants die back for a season in order to conserve energy until the new growth is triggered by the thaw and the warmth of a Spring sun.

Do I die back for a season in order to grow afresh at a later date?

This is just how it is. To live a life with my Lord God as my Saviour I have to let the me-me-me parts of me die. To come alive in this world right now I need to change the way I think and the way I behave, which is to put to death a big part of me. To come to be with you and enter into the Life that will last forever, I'm going to have to die. Without death there is no life.

In the Book of Common Prayer it says, 'In the midst of life we are in death,' but also in the midst of death we are in life. Without Autumn and Winter there'd be no Spring.

Loving you loving me
So bring on the Autumn, Father God. You know what you're doing. Let the leaves fall, let the birds eat the berries and let the hedgehogs hibernate. Can I hibernate too?

That was just a joke.

If I left Britain for sunnier climes I think I might miss the seasons. It's no wonder we British are obsessed with the weather when there are days like today. Heavy rain, strong wind, bright sunshine in the space of an hour. Frosts in the mornings already and the occasional mild afternoon where people wait outside school in a Tshirt (not me). Golden Autumn, snowy, icy Winter, bright, bitter Spring and, well,  damp and unpredictable Summer. That's what you do well in this neck of the woods.

It's the work of your hand, and it's good. It's always good, not only now and again. I'm sorry I'm ungrateful. I've just been admiring a wall not far from here with Virginia Creeper all over it. The new leaves are shaped like hearts; beautiful strings of red and orange hearts. Almost as if you were telling me something.

'This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.'


Next time I'll try to say it without a pillow over my head.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Helen, I've missed being able to get over here; you always manage to articulate what I'm thinking. Though I'm an autumn lover :), I'm overwhelmed right now with situations I can't fix, and I'm struggling to let trust, not complaining, rule the day. It 5:30 am here--and raining--but thanks for reminding me to rejoice first.


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