During the first few months of my freshman year in college, I fell in love. I was away from home for the first time in my life, and everything was so new and fresh…but I was lonely and desperate and in a pretty bad place. Every morning began with the disheartening realization that yes, I was still there at school…and every night ended with a gut-level sigh and one simple thought: I want to go home.
In such a hard place, it was pretty natural for me to seek comfort somewhere. It’s not unusual. Young girls everywhere find themselves, at one time or another, in a place of seeking and searching for something they can’t quite put their finger on. All things considered, there really wasn’t anything remarkable about my fresh, new, comforting romance that accompanied this fresh, new, confusing time in my life.
But I remember the day it started. I had just left my morning Spanish class and, walking down the sidewalk toward the library, I saw a bench under a multi-colored tree. Exhausted both emotionally and physically, I risked making a conspicuous fool of myself (which is actually pretty hard to do on a college campus, but a very real concern for self-conscious introverts) and laid down on the bench. Using my backpack as a pillow, I laid on the bench and looked up through the dancing yellow and red leaves, the dappled sunlight warming my face and my heart.
See? It was a beautiful tree.
A cool breeze blew down from the mountain, and in that precise moment, I fell in love. My heart burst, and I began my love affair with autumn.
For the next several weeks, I looked forward to my time on that bench every day. I would go the long route to class to have a few minutes there. I would leave lunch early to escape to my quiet place. I would disappear from my dorm room in the evenings for a secret rendezvous with my bench and my tree. As the months passed, the tree overhead changed in appearance many times, but nothing about my affection for that spot changed in the least.
Was it silly? Maybe, but I think I found more than comfort on that bench under the tree by Evans Hall. I think I found a little of myself, which tends to happen in all true love affairs.
My relationship with fall has been a beautiful one since then. I have a reputation for my eager anticipation of cooler temperatures and pumpkin patches and hot drinks by the fire. I am known for my love of boots and scarves and all things autumn. I tend to be nostalgic in October, reminiscing of those comforting early days of my love for fall as our anniversary rolls around again. This year marks our 18th year together.
Fall and I…we go way back.
But this year, we’ve hit a rough patch. In a way, fall has hurt me this year. I feel betrayed, and things just aren’t the way they used to be. This October hasn’t been one of sweet memories, but one of trial and struggle and eager anticipation of its passing.
I haven’t felt well, for reasons too complicated to get into now. Things have been stressful at home, with a new stage of parenting/child development besieging every. waking. moment. My daughter got a concussion, my work has been neglected, and I can’t keep my head above water at home. The weather hasn’t even cooperated – temperatures have been stuck in the 80s (the 80s, y’all) and I genuinely feel like life has kind of fallen apart since October 1st.
Fall and I…we aren’t getting along very well. Our relationship is in trouble. I honestly kind of just want it to go away.
One of my all-time favorite shows is Gilmore Girls. If you aren’t familiar with the show, one of the main characters – Lorelai Gilmore – has a true love affair with snow. “Flakes, flurries, swirls, crystals, whatever form it comes in. I’ll take it,” she says. “We go back, snow and me. We have a beautiful history.”
She anticipates it. She relishes it. She becomes childlike in her wonderment of it and pulls everyone she knows into the joy of the season with her. It seems silly to everyone but her – and me. I get it.
In one episode, though, snow betrays her. Snow drifts block her favorite things and frozen limbs fall on her car and business suffers. She and snow, as she says, are through. The relationship is soured and they’re breaking up. As silly as Lorelai is at times, I have to say that this year, this month, today, I totally understand where she is coming from. Certain times of year – of life – are supposed to be one way, and when they aren’t….well, the unpredictability of life slaps us in the face and we once again realize that we have no control over how it all falls into place.
But at just about the time that we are ready to crawl into a hole (or a nice warm bed with a ridiculous number of blankets), something begins to change. Autumn begins to change to winter…snow begins to melt…the cloud of depression begins to lift, and we are reminded that seasons aren’t forever. Seasons pass, whether with the flip of calendar pages or the healing that comes with time. Good or bad, anticipated or dreaded, relished or repulsive, they don’t last forever. Eventually, all seasons must end.
So for me, October is passing. The leaves are just beginning to change, thanks only to cooler nighttime temperatures, so true fall is still up ahead. But this October – with its incessant drama and blindsiding trauma – is almost over. Does that make me sad? Normally it would. Normally I’d be thinking of all the festivals I still want to hit and the pictures to capture and feeling a little sad, but this year is different.
This year, I’m holding on to the hard and true fact that seasons change, time passes, and things will eventually get better. My photo stream isn’t overrun with images of pumpkin patches and corn mazes and red-leafed trees, but I have hope for November. I have hope for tomorrow, even. I have hope that even though my relationship with autumn has hit a rough patch, as all relationships do, things will get better.
My God is still the God who thought up the whole idea of seasons, and who thought it’d be a neat idea for leaves to change color and the angle of sunlight to illuminate the world in a golden glow during the month of October. He is still God, and He still promises that while things may be bad for a bit, they will get better.
That was true for me during my freshman year of college, when all I wanted to do was go home.
That’s equally true for me this year, when life is rough and adulting is hard and I long for my heavenly home.
Seasons pass. Times change. God’s God through it all, and there is never a day or a place or a season that is so bad that He can’t turn it around.
So friend, wherever you are today, and in whatever season you find yourself, take heart that it will pass. Seasons change, for better or worse, but God is always God. That much we can count on.
Right here with you,