As we pass into autumn, we enter into a season of change and transitions. The leaves begin to glow yellow, orange and red, pumpkin spice becomes ubiquitous, and our thoughts turn to past things and to future things. It is a time of transformation all around us. For many of us, that only emphasizes the shift occurring in our own lives.
We are reminded that “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant” (Eccles 3:1-2).
Hope in Change
In my book “Journeys with a Tin Can Pilgrim,” I offer a way to look at transitions with hope in the future and trust in God’s providence. My book is about change in the different seasons of life, about how I went from being a young ambitious lawyer, then a mother of two, then to starting over after divorce, and most recently to an unexpected call in the next stage of life.
More than three years ago, I sold my house in an urban suburb of Washington, D.C. and left my job as project manager and in-house counsel to become a wandering evangelist in an Airstream travel trailer. Not something I ever anticipated!
Yet, I’ve found great happiness and peace in this new stage of life. Whatever God has in mind for you, His plans can’t be beat. If your next stage involves RV travel, you’ll find helpful practical tips in my book. Plus, even if you do not travel, the book’s reflections on change apply to anyone facing a transition.
New Skills and Humility
Change is part of the world God created where seasons come and go until the end of time. For me, change meant acquiring new skills. I had to learn how to drive a truck, how to back up a trailer, as well as basic maintenance for electric and plumbing that in my previous life I’d just have called someone to do for me.
I’ve also had to learn more humility about what I can and can’t do. Being able to ask someone for help with an unexpected difficulty – in my case, a rollover accident — was new for me. While perhaps not a skill, humility comes with spiritual growth.
Growth and Detachment
Growth, you see, is another characteristic of a season of change. Bears and squirrels gather food for the winter, growing fat and securing their energy stores to winter over. Likewise, we have to find what we need for our personal journeys into a new season.
At the same time, we learn to let go, like the birds who fly south leaving rapidly cooling weather for warmer areas. Birds leave the painstakingly built nests where they raised their chicks and launched their fledglings. Empty nester is a very apt term! Just as my children took flight on their own out of the nest, it became my turn to take flight as well, to soar above where I’d been before. Leaving my comfort zone, I ventured out in trust like them. We all journeyed into new seasons of life – whether close to the
beginning or nearer to the end. Detachment from the past is a characteristic of a season of change.
Beauty in Change
Finally, there is beauty in change. Consider the leaves splashing color on the fall sky or the bright red berries that hungry birds gorge upon, greedily stuffing themselves for fuel on their flights. We see the fields shorn of their harvests, evoking the wispy hairs on a baby’s head or the stubble of a new Marine’s haircut. A season of change reveals different beauty in the same place, in the swaths and swales of the ground now revealed after harvest. Even the leaves that fall create soft layers on the forest floor that eventually change to rich soil, covering seeds that will sprout with new growth in the spring.
I cherish the clear crisp autumn days when bees drunk with honey dart about getting into my picnic food. The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer with crisper cooler air. While I love the stark beauty of the desert and the lush tropical foliage of our southernmost states like Florida, I treasure the constant change of seasons in most states.
In change what we find steady and true is the love of God. We confidently can hope in Him for whatever comes in the next season. It may be fierce storms or peaceful blankets of snow forming from tiny flakes, falling with whispers, covering all with silent beauty.
A Promise Beyond Transitions
Transitions don’t necessarily mean chronological change. I used to think anyone over forty was old. Then, I became forty and thought anyone over fifty was old, and so on. Now I realize that old is simply a state of mind. Seasoned or mature are better terms. I’ve met people much younger than me who are old in their attitude. Too often they are ruled by fear, afraid to keep doing things the same way but too timid to try new things. I remember feeling that way myself. Now, I rejoice to share the love of God with them and pray they too will find trust in the future He has for them.
Likewise, in nature, aging leaves fall, nourish the ground, and create soil to sustain new life. The harvest goes to feed people and we scatter grains to start new crops. The seeds that fall lie dormant in the cold until spring comes again, until we enter eternal life with the God who loves us.
Some of our best adventures await us in our later or seasoned years of life. Each of us has so much to give back to others and in doing that find ourselves and fulfillment. We all have a purpose, no matter what stage in life. It may be working in relief efforts, helping people build homes, reading to children at a library. Most simply, it is being a loving grandparent or neighbor or friend who cares, who becomes God’s hands and feet in the world.