Fall has always been my favorite season, despite my taste buds abhorring any and all things pumpkin-flavored. No white girl-shaming here over the pumpkin spice thing though. It’s straight up impressive how the collective culture can simultaneously shame the pervasiveness of something so loved by so many and profit from it. But that’s a whole different topic.
If I have to choose, I love the apple-flavors of Fall. I love back-to-school even though I haven’t been in traditional school for awhile. I love the energy around new beginnings, the settling into a routine. I enjoy the weather cooling off enough for me to feel comfortable turning my oven on again and start baking. I like the collective turn toward coziness and thankful living. I love pulling out my flannel shirts and mittens.
And I love the leaves changing color and falling to the ground. I feel cheated if there is an early snow that freezes the leaves before they have a chance to turn- it happens in the weirdness of North Dakota. One of the best experiences on my life in the slim in-between time when there are leaves dry and crunchy on the ground to walk through while still having a brilliant display on the trees.
A few year ago, I made a comment to my brother that I loved the smell of Fall. He turned to me and deadpan said, “You love the smell of death and decay.” He is not wrong. The smell associated with Fall is the smell of dead and fallen leaves beginning to decay. His words stuck with me, probably because my initial reaction was to argue that he was wrong (obviously, we are siblings). He was not wrong. But I held on to my love for fall and its unique beauty vehemently.
I realized there was something deeper there. A spiritual concept and struggle I have had a difficult time articulating. There is something about the changing of the seasons, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer- what fascinated us as children, is still where God reveals certain truths.
Change is not always pleasant. Pain, injustice, trauma and death are real. These things need to be acknowledged, grieved and lamented. They must have their time.
But. There can be beauty in death. Especially, and dare I say only, when one has hope and assurance of the someday, already imminent resurrection.
Hope is one of the most rebellious human emotions in my opinion. It says boldly: “Yes, things are not as they should be. But they will not always be this way. And I will be a part of the change in this world that God calls me to.” So yes, there is death and decay in Fall, but there is always the promise of the joy of Christmas, where there is a thrill of hope for a child born to bring the world to peace. Then. There is the promise of spring and new life after the dark of winter. That is the hope of Fall, leaving behind the old to decay and displaying in brilliant colors, the beauty of death as we turn towards hope.