A leaf fell from the maple tree in front of us. The raspberries are giving their last and homegrown lettuce is on sale at the farm stand. It's the time of the year when all the fresh presence that Spring brought has left and is leaving. It's the time of the year when we pull out the clothes we tire of so much more quickly than linens and light cottons.

We say goodbye to mornings on the porch and hello to the kitchen woodstove. The couple across the street had their last words and we sat on the front step and watched her throw suitcases and shoes into the back of her father's car.

I'm not ready for winter this year. I rarely am, and perhaps it's the two year absence from this tundra that makes me less ready for the coming hibernation. All I know is that this favorite season is too quickly over and settling in for tea and wool sounds dreadful. I like green and outside and breezes. I like fresh and I like new. I even like a little old. But I hate dead.

But, which is more, I hate the deadness of unmet expectations and delayed hope. I am, I'm told, too often a direct reflection of my immediate circumstances instead of representation of the Christ I long to emulate. I memorized the first few verses of Romans 5 as a weapon against this great dread of mine. I like how The Message puts it:

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary--we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.

So this is what I think about today, as I shelve art supplies for the coming school year, as I eat celebratory autumn pumpkin muffins, as I don a sweater and hunt for a space heater to use at work, I think that all these reminders of the end of Summer, the end of newness, create a gap that can only be filled by Spring.

And, in the meantime, we don't feel shortchanged because we know that it's coming.

September 2007