January 22

“He withdrew… to a solitary place.” Matthew 14:13

“There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolisly believe we have come to the end of the song. God sends us time of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymns of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there.” (Streams in the Desert)

Leaf raking is sacred activity. It takes a higher toll on my body these days than when I was a younger man, but the pain is worth the payoff. The glory of God abounds in the most common occurrence if we look long and hard enough to see it. I may groan inwardly when the accumulated effect demands the raking of leaves and trimming of bushes so we can see the sidewalk and remember grass is under there somewhere, but deep down I don’t mind fallen leaves. Most of the ones I’m gathering turned color before turning loose their grip on branches overhead. I love seasons, largely because growing up in Port Arthur we only experienced two of them—hot and hotter. Autumn brings out the artist in us all. There is something magical about leaf snow and branches that become paintbrushes. Fall is as colorful as spring, but the palette is different. Muted tones of bronze, sienna, and ochre poised overhead await the inevitable.

I am sensitive to seasons more now than ever before because I have entered the autumn of my own experience. It may be winter and I just don’t know it, but at least, on average, I have time for a slow fade before sunset hastens behind the horizon. The challenge is not the fading of the light, it is mustering the courage to enjoy what’s left of it. What might I learn of my Creator and myself if I refuse frenetic activity and walk rather than run into winter? I want more than to stop and smell the roses, I want to know their names and to distinguish between tea roses, Floribundas and Grandifloras. Look deep into every moment and you will find enough of the Almighty to set you daydreaming of eternity. Autumn turns our attention toward winter and leaves us longing for spring, but be careful not to squander the journey home.

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