In the car on our way to church a couple of weeks ago, we were all marveling at the incredible display of colors we were seeing around us. Shades of orange and brown and yellow and red. Some of the trees were so bright they almost looked as though they were on fire.
I turned to my husband and said, “Doesn’t the beauty of it all almost make you ache inside?”
He smiled and said, “No. I love it but not the point of aching. I’m not surprised it does that to you though.”
He knows me very well.
Fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp air, the incredible colors, wearing my favorite boots and sweaters, visiting the pumpkin patch and knowing that Christmas is right around the corner.
But, every year around this time another feeling settles over me. It’s tinged with sadness.
It makes me feel…melan-fall-y.
All around me I see this dramatic and colorful evidence of change.
Of time moving forward…and moving quickly!
The leaves reach this climactic moment in their “lives” and then fall to the ground in a pile while what remains above are bare branches.
And then it’s done. Over.
There will never be another Fall quite like this one, or the one last year, or the year before that. I can’t stop it all from happening, just like I can’t come due on my promise to put a book on my children’s heads to keep them from growing.
With each leaf that falls I think “slow down, slow down.”
Every year, the experience of going to the pumpkin patch as a family changes a little bit. This event, a favorite for us, also becomes a bittersweet reminder of how quickly things are changing and how fast my kids are growing.
It’s like a mile marker, showing me just how far we’ve come in what feels like the blink of an eye.
There will be a year when we say, “hey kids, let’s go to the pumpkin patch!” and it won’t be met with quite the same amount of enthusiasm.
In the past, I used to feel so conflicted about this melan-fall-y feeling that arose in me every year. How could I love this season so intensely and yet feel such a sense of sadness inside at the same time?
And then I began to look at it in a different way.
Perhaps this feeling wasn’t something to be pushed down. Maybe I was just supposed to sit in it…let it come up all around me like when my sister and I would bury ourselves in the big pile of leaves our dad had just raked until only our eyes were visible.
Maybe this season isn’t just about sweaters and boots and mulled cider candles and pumpkin spice lattes.
Maybe feeling melan-fall-y is actually a gift.
A chance to pause and revel in this season before moving quickly onto the next one.
Maybe walking through the woods, leaves crunching underneath, feeling that ache inside is supposed to remind me of how finite I am so that I can remember just how infinite my creator is.
Maybe He even built that ache right into me so that I would seek Him out.
The truth is that while the leaves may fall off of them, the branches that seem so stark and bare hold new growth inside.
New life. Fresh starts.
And, like the time passing so quickly and my children getting older and my hair getting grayer there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t control it.
Frankly, I don’t want to.
I want to celebrate each passing season…
…revel in my children’s growth…
…rejoice that there is such a thing as hair color kits.
So, I choose to embrace my melan-fall-y feelings. I allow room for them in my heart.
Not too much room.
But just enough to keep me keenly aware of just how fleeting this world is…and just how truly grateful I am for every moment I have in it.
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George Eliot