The landscape is changing these days. The colors are shifting; a palate of green softening into copper, maroon, and beige. Just a few brave leaves remain on maples and oaks once loaded in finery.
Tomatoes are now canned. Sweaters have been unpacked and hung back in the closet. Mums and pumpkins have hit their stride on front porches everywhere.
The cornfields bordering my home were harvested a few days ago. They sure made a lovely seasonal fence throughout the summer as their stalks stretched higher than ever before. A sea of roots and leaves remains, the remnants of a year of good growth.
On Sunday I drove to a congregation in Rushford to fill in for pastoral duties. As I exited Interstate 90 and made my way down a 10-mile stretch of Highway 43, I was met with faint echoes of fog through the gorgeous bluffs. For a moment I was nostalgic for warmer days, but then noticed a herd of cows. They seemed perfectly at ease. It was as if they understood, on a bovine level, that every time of year comes with its own mercies, a truth of which I, on a human level, longed to be reminded.
During the children's message, 4-year-old Andy came forward wearing a yellow T-shirt complimented perfectly by his new blue and white fleece scarf. The return of cold-weather accessories is upon us, and Andy is paving the way.
The passing of the peace held hints of the chill settling in as hands shook hands that haven't been quite so chilly for months. After worship was coffee hour, and many of us happily used our mugs of piping brew to increase the temperature of appendages not quite ready for gloves.
Daylight savings time ends on Sunday; another reminder that a shift is easing in upon us. That's how autumn's welcome has felt this year: a gentle, subtle nod. Not all at once, but like an old drip coffee pot. Drip-dropping one degree and one leaf at a time.
There are constants, though, amid the change. The sun keeps rising every day. And then, come evening, it finds its way back to the horizon and heads to bed. The moon keeps cycling through its phases. The stars keep showing up.
These constants in life are helpful guideposts; they ground us and root us. Because change, even subtle, can be challenging. Sun and moon, grace and God. These things remain. Ever-reminding us that like the seasons, we, too, can gently lean in and breathe deep.