Our green bean, zucchini, cucumber, and tomato plants are history for another year. Ah, fall has arrived! We enjoyed some delicious meals with the fruits of those plants. The mint and basil have been cut back, ready for their restorative winter sleep. The mojitos and pesto on zucchini noodles were pretty good while they lasted, though! But, Alas! The petunias are goners and, now, the long-lasting creeping Jenny and calibrachoa baskets have succumbed to the elements. I couldn’t help but back-plant a couple of the large petunia planters with bright yellow mums and asters, although they even appear to have gotten nipped in the chilly temperatures these last few days.
But, thanks to those chilly temps, fall is also a season of intensely beautiful colors, too. Driving to work down 3rd Street is a true testament to the full palette of colors, from bright red burning bushes to the gold, yellow, orange, and hues of red and scarlet (some even salmon-colored!) on ash, elm, oak, and ornamental trees. Then, pulling into the church parking lot with the full, bright yellow leaves is stunningly beautiful!
During this fall season, that Byrds’ song from the mid-60’s, written by Pete Seeger, is replaying over and over in my head. Turn! Turn! Turn! was a big hit in 1965, but most of those lyrics have been appreciated for well over 2000 years!
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
The Teacher (many believe it was Solomon in the 10th century BC or some believe another writer from 3rd century BC) wrote Ecclesiastes about what really matters in earthly life. That seems like a timeless, universal theme to me.
Fall is the most reflective time of year for me, making it a time of wrapping-up the fruits of summer, of nesting in readiness for winter, of anticipation for gatherings of thankfulness and celebrating our Lord’s birth, of putting life and death in a current perspective.
My grandson recently sent me this text, “Just wanted you to know us East Coast folks like huckleberry jam also.” Ha! After a good laugh and further exchanges, I whipped up a fresh batch of jam and zipped it off to him at college in Massachusetts. A few days later, he texted back, “Was greeted by the mailman with the care package after walking back to the apartment after my last final; good way to start the fall break!” I was so happy that he was blessed with the fruits of my labor, especially after an exhausting and stressful time for him.
The Teacher had similar reflections: 9 What do workers gain from their toil? 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Fall also has me reflecting on this period of my life, trying not to focus on the length of years left on earth, but the quality of my life. The stories from the breast cancer survivors printed recently in the Coeur d’Alene Press help to put life in proper perspective. Our church’s own Kittye Wallies’ story touched me by her love of the Lord sustaining her and Bruce through her continuing cancer struggles. Also having a 69-year-old friend die recently of pancreatic cancer only three weeks after initial symptoms and diagnosis has brought a deeper reflection on an appreciation of living a good life.
The Teacher’s verses tell us that his struggles were in many ways the same as ours today, as he continues: 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
I think The Teacher’s concluding paragraph for this section gives us an ultimate goal for God’s people:
10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.
God’s promise of eternity and continuation of God’s good works are comforting. However, the two lines that particularly stand out as a goalpost for me are these:
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
The Word of God found in the Bible is a constant source of comfort and guidance for me! I pray it is for you, too. I also pray that joy of life in the Lord shines through me and that I may live my life to “do good” for others. Let’s get out and enjoy the fall beauty and bounty that the Lord has made!
Your friend in Christ,