I’ve watched the leaves turn from green to gold year after year, but yesterday, I noticed something I never had before. I was walking through our little German town with my head tilted back slightly, enchanted by the warm colors above me and by the heat of the afternoon sun met by a brisk breath of early autumn air.
Something inside me made me stop and take off my sunglasses as I passed a row of flourishing maple trees. Sure enough, the leaves really were as red as they had seemed through the glass, and with the backdrop of the bright blue sky, it was a sight that I just couldn’t rush past.
It occurred to me in that moment that seasons of change have gifts of beauty all their own. “How kind of the Creator,” I thought to myself with a sort of awestruck smile. Leaves could simply shrivel up and die when summer slowly gives way to the cold each year, but instead, they go out with a bright bang, as if reminiscing about their favorite days of sunshine before peacefully closing their eyes and turning the page.
My family and I are in our own sort of autumn right now. I’ve spent every one of my one-year-old’s naps for the past week or two sorting through our things and packing boxes in preparation for our move at the end of the month. And I must say, when I am surrounded by stacks of books at midnight or on my hands and knees while pulling out expired boxes from the depths of our pantry, it would be easy to grit my teeth and tell myself to just push through a little longer. It would be easy to console myself with what’s to come and flee from the present, drifting off in a daydream.
However, it is right here in the midst of my messy moments — the ones when I’m looking toward the future with excited expectancy while simultaneously wrapping up the wonderful season in our first home, as the memories of the past five years seem to linger in the air — I hear a soft voice inside and the gracious invitation to revel in the brilliance of the red maple leaves of my today.
I could fall into a hazy nostalgia so very swiftly in dwelling on the happy days of my season passed. Just as quickly, I could gain tunnel vision in dreaming of the fresh, white snow and the clean slate it brings in the season to come.
But oh, what I would miss in doing so.
I love the way Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot talks about tension:
“Humanity is stretched tight between the womb and the grave, between control and chaos, between conflict and resolve. Like a guitar string, we are stretched tight, pulled in two places at once. And when you’re in a difficult season you want to run towards one end or the other. To cut the chord. And yet, to cut the string is death. The tension is where the beauty happens. The melody of our lives is when we dance on these strings of tension.”
Therefore, I see no choice but to keep my eyes open wide and lean into the pain of goodbye. To shift gears when the time is right. To take in shaky breaths when the newness overwhelms. And to brave the tension, never forgetting to tune my ear to the beauty it brings.