It is a gorgeously beautiful day here in Minnesota. This morning was about sixty degrees and sunny, and fall colors are reaching their peak. The maple tree across the road from my house was stunning; its perfect reddish gold leaves against the backdrop of early morning blue sky took my breath away. Autumn—or perhaps it is the change of any season—brings a reconnection to the natural world. Getting out in nature and breathing in the crisp cold air fills me with a sense of rightness, an unbroken rhythm of life.
This year the season’s progression is stirring different thoughts and feelings. My dad had his first stroke one year ago this past week so I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. Fall was a favorite time of year for him; a life-long farmer, he thrived in late summer and autumn harvest time. Even when his health and short-term memory started failing, he would drive his tractor out to the field where the corn was being harvested and sit and watch the activity. It brought out the best in him and also awakened memories about what fall harvests were like when he was growing up.
It was a year ago in September—another beautiful fall day—when I was visiting him and he was telling me harvest stories. He looked at me and said, “I still have my tractor; do you want to go for a ride?”
I was a bit startled, but of course said yes. And for more than an hour on that fall afternoon he drove me all around his farm pointing out where some kids had gone joyriding through the cornfields with a pickup truck, past the low spot in the field where the spring rains had washed out the crop, and past the neighbor’s pumpkin patch.
Joyful: that’s how I describe both of us that afternoon. He was in his element, sharing it with me. That particular memory is never far from my mind, and the feeling is vibrantly alive when I am out in a day like today.
I lost my dad last spring, and my heart is broken. I still miss him terribly. But I sense that in these gorgeous fall days, I can reconnect with his joy in a glorious harvest day.
It is the story as old as time itself: that life is a rhythm and when you trust that, you know that joy will follow sadness; after pain, healing will come as surely as fall comes after summer.
You don’t get to choose the timing of the season’s change, it’s just there. But if you listen closely, you can hear the rhythm and your heart will sing with it.