Days of Autumn

 

 

Days of Autumn

Richard Hollerman

During these days we think of autumn, the third season of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, the cooler weather of autumn continues from September to November, while in the Southern Hemisphere, the autumn weather goes from March to May. 

We may naturally think of the way that leaves change colors and then fall to the ground during this season. Actually, this is where “Fall” gets its name—the leaves fall from the trees so that all are gone by wintertime. 

The World Book explains that during early autumn, the days may continue to stay warm but the nights are cooler. As the days go by, the air becomes cooler yet. The hours of daylight are fewer.  “Daylight Savings Time” ends in early November, with a bit more daylight in the morning and darkness sets in earlier in the evening. Just now, in our area, by 6 PM we have darkness. Eventually, in the middle of winter, it will be dark by 5 PM. But at present, it is getting light by 7 AM.

 

The leaves begin to die and, as part of the process, they change colors.  Some people take advantage of this period of the year to travel to particularly scenic areas of the country. They leave the city and visit the scenic countrysides. The New England states proverbially are gorgeous in September and October. They are greeted with red, yellow, orange, gold, and other shades of color that cover the trees.  God displays His glory in this delightful way.

One source explains when fall and winter begin:

On the autumnal equinox, day and night are each about 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days after the autumnal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going southward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. (almanac.com/content/ first-day-seasons).

The winter solstice may be explained in this way:

The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at local noon. After this date, the days start getting “longer,” i.e., the amount of daylight begins to increase. (Ibid)

This year, fall began on September 23 and winter begins December 21. Autumn, therefore, is about three months in length.

What do we think of when autumn comes to mind? First, we probably think of cooler weather.  In some areas of the country, it can still reach 90 degrees during the day (as it did here a month ago) but it can also reach to 10 degrees (as in the northern states, including Alaska).  For those of us who have difficulties with cold temperatures (as I do), we may cringe to think of the fall season coming and progressing to wintertime, but we can do little to change it. We’ll turn on the heater or furnace or we may cut timber for the fireplace. We can winterize our house and find the warmer winter clothes. We can change our attitude about the coldness of this season and this is probably the best approach to take.

Instead of complaining about the weather, we should be willing to accept the inevitable. After the great flood of Noah’s day, God said:

While the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

The cool or even cold days of fall will probably one day pass away when the new heavens and the new earth arrives (Revelation 21:1-2). In the meanwhile, let’s accept it and live with it.

Second, nature is in the process of dying.  The beautiful flowers of spring and summer are passing away, thus the color of nature is departing. We won’t see the new life of springtime for several more months.  Soon the trees will be bare and the grass will no longer grow. We can put away the lawnmower for the season and pull out the snow shovel.

Many of us symbolize the aspects of the season and compare them to our own lives. Just as the world of nature dies in the fall and is entirely gone in the wintertime, so our lives show the signs of age.  We lose our hair, or the hair becomes gray or white. The wrinkles chisel the face with the signs of age and toil. We lean over and tremble. Solomon describes the advance of age in the significant portion of Ecclesiastes 12:1-8, with his final words touching our hearts: “The dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to the God who gave it” (12:7).

Third, even when we are living during a period of dying and death in the natural world, we find the beauty of nature yet around us.  Particularly the leaves of the bushes and trees are a delight to our eyes.  The fresh air stimulates our senses. Similarly, in our own life, although our bodies are in a process of decay, we can look for the beauty of physical life.  What’s more, we can anticipate the glories of eternal life.

This is the way Paul looked at his life: “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The apostle went on to explain further: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison” (v. 17). He then ends with a note of triumph that is possible only for the one in Christ: “. . . while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (v. 18). If we are looking for consolation in this world, we will be gravely disappointed. Our hope and our future lies in the eternal and spiritual realm.

Fourth, in the fall we are aware that wildlife also changes.  Some of the birds with which we are familiar will fly away and head for the south. Some of the animals will hibernate during the frigid cold of the winter, and won’t emerge until the warmer days of the spring. We may hate to lose this part of nature, but it is good to remind ourselves that after the winter, the spring will return once again.

Let’s focus on the spiritual during the days of autumn. Let’s rejoice in the beauty around us and let’s remember that the new life of spring will assuredly come as in the past.  God is the God of all seasons and He will not desert us. Whether it be the spring, the summer, the fall, or the winter, our God is the God of creation and the God of eternal life.

 

 


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