Some seasons rush in abruptly. A sweltering heatwave that paves an early shortcut to summer. A hefty blizzard that provides the segue to winter.
Other times, seasonal transitions are gradual, providing time to appreciate and reflect. Thus far, our meteorological journey through autumn has felt more like a gradual inclination this year. There have been opportunities to enjoy the changing colors of the leaves, walks with friends, and even a pumpkin spice latte here and there. This fall has been a gift.
I had the privilege of sitting as a passenger in the back seat with a few friends on a recent roadtrip to La Crosse, Wis., for a clergy conference. The drive took us down Interstate 90 just as the sun was starting to make its way to bed for a now earlier bedtime. The tree limbs were nearly barren and the beige-colored landscape stretched for miles. The fields had been harvested except for an acre of corn here and there. We even spotted a bald eagle soaring overhead.
It was only a 70-mile trip, but God provided a lovely dose of beauty and friendship along the way. The space between Halloween and Thanksgiving is a special stretch of time for experiences like that one. It is our sacred southeastern Minnesota window between autumn's mild embrace and winter's cold shoulder. I often waste this precious window by complaining about the upcoming season of Permacold. This year, though, it has been easier to appreciate the beauty of it all. The sunsets. The deer. A patch of pumpkins. An orchard of apples.
My personal journey of recent months mirrors the gentle transformation of the weather. No longer at the very beginning of a vocational transition, I am now finding a bit of solid ground in my role as director of communications for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. My platelet condition and its treatments continue, but for whatever reason, none of that feels as daunting or consuming as it once did. I have been waking up peaceful and not anxious. Like the lovely autumn, this current life reality has been a gift, too. It's one I am trying my best not to take for granted.
It's nearly impossible to predict just when a temperature change will occur. I've heard many meteorologists making their best guesses for the type of winter we'll have this year. But they are all quick to admit that these are merely predictions and no one knows for certain.
The same is true in our personal journeys. We can certainly note the patterns and make an educated guess, but it's impossible to know exactly what is ahead.
Sometimes transitions roll in so fast we blink and, unbelievably, a year has passed. Sometimes we feel like we're stuck on pause just waiting to enter a new chapter. There are seasons and they have a tendency to change, and just like the weather, we aren't in complete control of how it will all play out.
Perhaps the best and healthiest approach we can take in our own journeys is not so different than the way we approach the weather forecast: Strive to be fully present in whatever season we're experiencing and trust that God is near. In frenzied times and peaceful times. During flip-flip season and snow boot season.
There is a deep comfort in Jesus' words from Matthew 28: "I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Whatever your current season, may you know that God is near.