Early Autumn

In these last days of September, crows fly over early in the morning, leaves turn, sunflowers give their last seeds to the goldfinches, whose bright summer plumage has begun to fade.

Summer was particularly beautiful this year, and letting go of it is as hard as it was sending my children off to school for the first time. I want to hold their hands forever. I want to hold the summer light forever.

Transition times, like these early fall days, carry equal parts of sadness and anticipation. This year, the beginning of fall, in our church, was marked with the loss of one of our members, Carol Sampson. She was one of those people whose presence helped hold the community together, linked as she was to so many lives. We’ve all felt deep reverberations at her departure. She passed away on an evening during one of the first big thunderstorms of the season. The winds that night blew away muggy heat, and blew in the cool fresh air of September. I was glad for the wild weather and the high winds–it seemed appropriate for her, for she loved a good storm.

Mid-September brought with it the return of children to Sunday School, and the anticipation of a new year. The morning they were back was marked by celebration with balloons, and healthy snacks, lots of chatter, and the sound of small feet running around the church. It was great to have them back, and they seemed happy to return, even though it meant getting up earlier on a Sunday morning.

We have just hired a new music director, Ted Stoddard, who also works for Fisk Organ. Ted saw us through a transition time last spring, right up to Pentecost. We enjoyed his time with us so much, we decided to ask him to stay. Ted brings lovely gifts to his work, and our organ sounds wonderful in his hands. We’re looking forward to making music with him this year. The St. Paul choir has recovened, after a summer off. We’re glad for their return.

Late last spring, and into the early days of summer, we completed a vision process for our community. In our case, the process was an opportunity to listen in to where people are in their lives, to check our spiritual pulse, as it were. The pulse was strong and healthy, the steady sturdy heartbeat, a reassuring comfort, that we are on the right track, and in good shape. During the fall, we’ll be exploring the results of our work together. We were led through the visioning process by one of our members, Kathy Eckles, whose gifts for this kind of work are profound. We experimented with a communal conversation model called The World Cafe, which turned out to be as enjoyable as it was informative. We used the New England Synod’s guidance on Doing What Matters to shape our process. It was well worth it.

May these last September days be blessed for you, with that late early autumn golden haze that sometimes floats over fields in the evenings. May the longer hours of darkness be a time of rest and refreshment for the tasks that transitions bring, and the days bright with meaningful activity. Wherever and whoever you are, during these beautiful days, may Christ lead you deeper into the mystery of God’s love.

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