The official end of summer season is just a week or two away. Seasons of the year come and go and bring weather changes as well as time and agenda changes. In the autumn season, school classes replace playtime at the pool, raking leaves replaces picking weeds in the garden, and we begin to replace in our closet the sleeveless shirts of summer with the sweaters and sweat shirts we need for the cool days and nights to come. Such is the rotation of the seasons; such are the invariable changes that are a part of human life.
As my 80th birthday approaches in a few days, I reflect more and more on the seasonal changes of human life. There was the springtime and there was the summertime. Spiritual writers often refer to these seasons as the first part of our life. Then come the autumn and winter seasons, which we can call the second part of our journey on earth. Each season is special, significant, and sacramental. That is, each season is a sacred time in which God meets us where we are and as we are on our earthly pilgrimage. Each season is a gift, a blessing from God, not only for us as individuals, but also for the people we meet and live with at each moment. Our society tends to recognize and rejoice in the blessings of youth, the vitality, the productivity, the glamour, the adventures and the accomplishments that youth is known for. For these seasons, we thank and praise God! Yet, our later two seasons are also full of blessings, graces that our secular society sometimes does not celebrate or find all that relevant for its commercial purposes.
For you, sisters and brothers who are in the autumn and winter seasons of your life, give thanks to our loving God. Autumn and winter may bring cold and ice, snow and slippery streets as well as aching muscles and tendons, but we find our security and our warmth INSIDE, inside our minds and hearts. As we move from the first part of life to the second part, we find ourselves becoming more at peace within ourselves and with the God we meet within. It is inside that true warmth and happiness live, like the gentle glow and soft heat emanating from the family room hearth. From within we find the security, the strength, the warmth to still extend our hands and our hearts to family, acquaintances, and strangers despite our weariness and diminishing energy. We of the later seasons have borne the sweat and heat of spring and summer and we have come to appreciate that every season is significant, full of meaning and purpose, but most of all that they are blessings from God. This blessing of autumn and winter we embrace and transform in order to transmit to our sisters and brothers of the spring and summer seasons the life-giving news that God is good, life is good, all creation is good, and with God everything will be all right! “Be not afraid,” as Jesus has told us. Time is temporary; it is terminal, but as time makes its final turn on the calendar of life, the next page is clearly marked “eternity.” This is the season of life that never ends; it is the fulfillment of all our dreams and hopes, and the completion of the journey we make during our many struggling seasons on earth.