You wouldn’t know it by the temperatures, but autumn is passing and winter is in its tow.
For those with lawns and gardens, it’s a busy time of raking, cutting, cleaning and winterizing.
One autumnal task is fertilizing. Experts recommend a high-nitrogen application that will heal the summer damage to the roots and provide them with food for winter.
We don’t know what this winter will be like. The woolly worm predicts a mild one, while the spoon-shaped persimmon seed foretells a lot of snow. The government’s meteorological service gives us an even chance for both.
But winter is more than weather. It is short days and long nights. This year, the darkness of the season will surely deepen amidst a COVID surge and the anxiety of a divided country.
Maybe we should be making autumn preparations to winterize the roots of our being. Maybe we, too, need to healed and nourished for the winter.
Autumn warns us of the inevitable death in our world. Among the falling leaves and withered flowers, we might reflect on what is dying, or what should die in our own lives.
Admitting, accepting, and grieving now will give winter a chance to do its healing.
We might take advantage of winter’s isolation to spend more time in spiritual reading. As the squirrels gather their winter food, we can use autumn to prepare a list of titles we hope will nurture us.
We can dust off our Bible or find a Scripture app for our phone. We can chart a course for a winter journey with the Word.
We can form a circle of spiritual support, intentionally and honestly engaging with others in matters of the heart.
Hearing their stories and sharing our own, we will be encouraged and corrected as we try to navigate our way.
None of this, though, will be of much help, unless we have an intimacy with God, or at least an availability to God. This takes only three things: time, patience and silence.
Winter is built for all three, but we are not, at least not without practice.
In this daily prayer, void of our own words and needs, we are freed to feel the movement of God in our lives. It is here that the heart is healed and seeds of trust and thanksgiving are sown.
Maybe it was autumn when Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Keep your roots deep in Him, build your lives on Him ... And be filled with thanksgiving.”