Oct 2 2011

Autumn’s Lessons

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 George Eliot once said “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”  I don’t know much about George Eliot but I have to agree with him on this one.  I love autumn and would, indeed, like to be a bird that could fly about the earth just so I could experience one autumn after another.  In a sense I guess I’ll be doing just that this coming week.  In a couple of days I’m flying (by plane) to Maine so that I can photograph the beauty of autumn in New England.  Each year I try to go somewhere that fall colors arrive earlier than they do here in the southern Appalachians.  I do this so that I can experience the splendor of fall more than once.

There is much about autumn that I enjoy.  I love the cooler temperatures that come with this season.  I enjoy the evenly balanced hours of daylight and darkness.  Autumn brings back wonderful memories of fall festivals when I was a kid, hayrides, and playing in leaves.  But most of all, I enjoy the colors of autumn.  Primarily I’m referring to the reds, yellows, and oranges of fall foliage but, as Rob would be quick to note, there are also delightful colors to be found in fall wildflowers.  Here my favorite is the unique blues of asters.

One of the things I don’t like about autumn is the beautiful colors do not last long.  By the time November rolls around most of the leaves will be off the trees and the flowers will have died.  Even if I were a bird I could only fly so long and then there would be no more autumns to enjoy.  Winter inevitably arrives.  It helps if we can admit this upfront.  If we know that something will not last forever hopefully we will be wise enough to enjoy it while we can.

As I continue thinking along these lines I realize that the brevity of autumn is a good reminder for all of us to live in the present moment and to make the most of the occasions we have to enjoy Creation and life itself.  It’s a call to “seize the day” and not wait until it is too late to do certain things we should.  This could be viewing nature’s glory but it might also be telling someone we love them or perhaps “I’m sorry.”  Autumn’s brevity also includes the reminder that the things and people we love and enjoy most will not be here forever and, for that matter, neither will we.  For that reason we should never take anyone for granted or even a single day of our lives.  Yes, autumn has much to teach us if we are ready to listen, ready to learn.  May God help us all to be good students.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Baxter State Park in Maine.  The bottom two images were captured at Acadia National Park, also in Maine.  I plan to visit both parks this coming week.)


Sep 22 2010

The Testimony of the Seasons

CO-Rocky-Mountain-NP-tundra-003A little after 11:00 tonight autumn will officially begin.  I’d be more excited about that if they weren’t predicting a high of 94 degrees here tomorrow.  I’ve seen a number of recent news articles indicating that this summer has been the hottest one on record.  This fall may prove to be warmer than normal too.  Still, I have no doubt that the temperatures will soon be more comfortable (for me, anyway) and that the annual brilliant show of autumn colors will shortly begin to make an appearance.

The changing of the seasons is actually something God has promised.  In Genesis 8:22 it says, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  This is the promise God gave to Noah following the Flood.  Much later the prophet Daniel would remind others that it is God who causes the seasons to change.  He said, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.  He changes time and seasons…”  (Daniel 2:20-21)

CO-Maroon-Bells-021Even further down the road the apostle Paul spoke of God being behind the changing seasons and how this bears witness to His goodness and faithfulness.  Speaking to a group in Lystra who thought he and Barnabas were Hermes and Zeus because they healed a crippled man, Paul said “turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  In the past, he let all nations go their own way.  Yet he has not left himself without testimony.  He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

As the seasons change once again today we are reminded that God has ordered this and that it is part of His good plan for Creation.  We are also reminded that the One who consistently brings this cyclic succession is faithful and can be counted on.  This truly is the testimony of the seasons!

–Chuck

(The top image I took at Rocky Mountain National Park in late September.  The bottom picture of Maroon Bells was also taken in Colorado about the same season of the year.)


Oct 7 2009

Just Because?

UP near Twin Lakes 481Yesterday I arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I was welcomed with a riot of color.  This is my first trip to the U.P.  Friends had told me that the fall colors here rival anything else in the United States.  They were right.  As you can see from the picture above, the foliage here is awesome!

I have indicated before that I love autumn and that it is mostly because of the incredible display put on by the hardwood trees.  A number of years ago, while doing some research on my first book, I discovered that although scientists know how the leaves change each fall, they cannot explain why.  The “how” is pretty simple.  Each fall as the days grow shorter, the nights cooler and the summer rains diminish, there is a dramatic reduction in the production of chlorophyll.  This allows the pigments that were there all along to show their true colors.

The “why” is the tricky part.  In nature colors are typically there for a purpose.  For example, bright colors in a bird will help attract a mate. The colors of flowers, likewise, draw in pollinators.  The beautiful colors of fall, however, don’t appear to serve a purpose.  They’re just beautiful.

Someone might reply to the question, “why do leaves turn beautiful colors in fall?” with the answer, “Just because.”  I don’t buy that.  I’m convinced that the beauty of fall is simply God’s gift to us.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”    Autumn is the time God makes the leaves extra beautiful (they’re still beautiful in spring and summer).  So my answer to the question, “why do leaves turn beautiful colors in fall?” is “just because—just because God loves us.”  The colors of autumn are a gift of His grace, and a wonderful gift at that!

–Chuck


Sep 30 2009

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Kingdom Come SP Raven Rock fallFall has finally arrived in southeastern Kentucky.  It will be a while before we have any significant color in the foliage but the temperatures have dropped significantly and the feel of fall is in the air.  I love autumn and always have.  I have wonderful childhood memories of making huge piles of leaves and jumping into them.  I remember fall festivals at school and hayrides at church.  From my earliest days I have loved the colors of fall.  Every year I look forward to seeing leaves turn red, yellow, orange, brown and purple.  One of the blessings of living in the southern Appalachians is the glorious autumn display put on by our native hardwoods.

A few weeks ago Rob wrote about fall in southern California and how it, too, has its seasonal changes.  I guess most places do.  I’m very thankful, however, to live where the four seasons are quite distinct.  It adds variety and a sense of rhythm to the year.  It also provides a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness.

My favorite hymn is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”  The second verse reads, “Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness, to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”  For the writer of this great hymn, and for me, the changing of the seasons bears witness to God’s faithful hand behind Creation. 

In Genesis 8 God promised Noah that He would maintain the changing seasons.  He told him, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  As the temperatures have dropped this week and a few leaves have begun to present their fall colors, I am reminded one more time that the Creator of this world is still in control.  It makes me want to sing “Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”  It also makes me want to go take some pictures…

–Chuck

(The image above was taken at Kingdom Come State Park in southeastern Kentucky.)