Autumn has crept into the northern realms of North America with all its buttery, soft light and golden shadows, and sighing, blustery days.
The sky has never seemed bluer. Outside Denver, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, snow has already fallen. In Southern California, people are getting ready for the lip-chapping Santa Ana winds, cautious because in these chaparral foothills it is fire season.
In the mornings no matter where you are, school buses carry children and family schedules start to burst at the seams, as time together grows more precious. In churches, leaders put the final touches on plans for Rally Sunday and Sunday School classrooms get bulletin board makeovers. Meanwhile, pastors are busy tweaking confirmation curriculum and finalizing adult forum speakers, knowing, with both dread and denial, that it is not too early to begin plans for Advent.
In autumn, an auburn expectation weaves its way through the days, as if, like tiny birds, grief and hope and longing have come home to settle. Often, the shortening daylight and the busy-ness of our schedules prevent us from noticing, but every now and again we’re caught off guard by its revelation: life is delicate and precious, and we are not its owners.
Perhaps it is starting school, or realizing it has ended for us. Perhaps it is the drier, thinner air that holds the supple sun’s light, or a maple tree’s bright and closing vibrancy; or perhaps it is as quotidian as the luxurious delicacy of warm water. Regardless, this passing of time seems to disclose itself in the most ordinary and heart wrenching of ways.
These fragile revelations are the very reasons to love the Christian faith. At its center is an incarnational reality, which offers sanctity to our bodies, our beings; our day-to-day lives. We are made for this world, not only in our genesis, but also in Christ’s once-and-for-all death and resurrection so our daily deaths and resurrections are infused with grace and promise. Resurrection is not reserved by Christ in for our final, punctuating breaths but is given so freely that even when we are unaware or burdened by our tasks, Christ is working in, under, and with time itself, blessing each of our moments with his eternal mercies.
It is one of the paradoxes of Christian life that in the ordinary and particular rhythms of our days and in the humble and familiar interactions with loved ones lays our greatest potential for transformation. Like a liturgy, the daily routines of our lives — be it packing lunches or meeting deadlines or sorting laundry — shape us, each hour a new song, each minute a new prayer. Our tasks and our relationships form us over time to not only who we are to become, but also to what we are meant to be. For in the end, we might be remembered for our greatness, but we will be loved for our faithfulness: to each other, to our labors, to our God.
In autumn dive into your days, with their short but golden horizons. For you are not alone, and in every moment, in every rising and setting of the sun, even in the slow pulsing of the years, Christ has walked before you, pouring mercy on your path and lifting you, as he gladly does with every fallen sparrow.