Changing Seasons, Changing Lives

Fall has long been my favorite season, but this year I enter it with a different set of experiences and thoughts that have changed my perspective. I come to this season with the recent loss of my mother weighing on my heart.

There’s new meaning in the leaves falling and the trees mourning their coverings. Do they know they will be full of life and leaves once again? Do they know the God who created them has plans for their fullness of life and will return them to the splendor of green they are for the spring and summer?

I find myself asking these same questions. Will I feel full of life again after this season of mourning? Will God bring me through the darkness and help me transition into a spring way of life? I look to others for examples of living through such loss. I know classmates and friends who have lost parents and see how they continue to live their lives. I also look to family and friends who have offered their support in a difficult time. Friends were there to let me cry — even on the phone. And someone who also lost her own mother suddenly offered understanding and comfort from a place of truly knowing what I was going through. Those family and friends bring me a sense of peace and hope.

I know as a Catholic that all will be well amid the mourning. I know that God has a plan for full life for all of us when we are united in heaven, and that we will all see each other again. But in this season of mourning and missing someone so vital and important in my life and in the lives of others, I can’t help but wonder how I’ll get through it.

Longing for spring green

Growing up I always loved fall. I would take time each year to photograph the changing colors on the trees. And it never bothered me that after those new hues appeared for several weeks the trees would become bare. You know fall is going to happen every year. Yet, I am always surprised to find the leaves changing. This week I drove by a set of trees that I pass almost every day. And suddenly there it was — reds, oranges, and yellows creeping into the leaves. It reminded me of how fast things can change.

The sudden loss of my mother has taught me once again about how fragile life is and not to take anything for granted. It happened so fast. She was here one day and now she is not. It’s overwhelming at times. Sometimes life takes you completely by surprise.

Some of life’s changes we anticipate and know are coming; while others leave us breathless and wanting for the comfort of spring green. This year I fear the leaves completely falling off the trees. With the loss of a loved one it seems that the winter tree will be too strong a reminder that life appears to end.

Yet, I’ve been through these seasons many times. There will be another spring. I can trust that the leaves will return in splendor and the cycle of creation will happen all over again. New life will come from the loss of this season’s leaves. Maybe the autumn leaves can teach me. Maybe they can teach me not to be afraid because they know when it is time to change — perhaps they twitch with expectation and know that something special is planned. The leaves that fall nourish the ground and the roots of the trees take in those nutrients — it all continues to serve life even though we may see things as ending.

So, how can I carry on through this season of change? I plan to go outside and take a good look at a tree with its autumn leaves and thank God for the vibrant colors. I will acknowledge the strength of the tree as a symbol of the strength my mom showed in life. I know that she has been given new life in Christ. And she will live on in those who loved her.

Dear God,
This autumn brings a strong reminder that nothing stays the same. You know when the trees will change colors and shed their leaves in anticipation of yet another season. How do we know they will be green again? You know our lives before we even exist on the earth. Help me to trust that this change is meant to happen and that you will make things whole, and green, and alive once again. Amen.