In autumn, death comes like a cinder paintbrush, lighting up the trees in flames of red, orange, and gold.
It’s as if the whole world has come together to celebrate the summer that was and the winter that will be. I think, when I’m honest, this is a challenge to me. How often do I find it easy to celebrate the summers in my life, and struggle to celebrate the seasons that feel more like death?
Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to commit to celebration in our lives, as a spiritual discipline that’s more than simply giving thanks. What would it look like to celebrate the stuff that’s keeping me up at night? What would it mean to throw a party not for the new job, the new house, or a new year, but for the things I’m not sure I want to claim, the things I’m afraid of or don’t understand?
“Suffering brings us to the end of ourselves–our strength, our resources, our comfort, our understanding and wisdom, our plans and control–but as it does so, it can drive us to the One whose very being is endless. We often despise our limitations because we want to be strong and self-sufficient, but our weaknesses fit perfectly into God’s gracious salvation plan. For it is only when we are bowed low before God in humility that we are exactly where he wants us to be, and, surprisingly, where we most need to be–powerless to help ourselves and totally dependent upon him.” -Sarah Walton
Paul said it like this:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I’m not sure I’ve learned yet what it means to rejoice in suffering, but I think it looks a lot like autumn. The leaves that blaze in piles of glory may die, but they know the true secret: that what seems like death is simply a preparing for spring.
Celebration in the midst of suffering is the truest way I know to speak of the truest thing I know: that redemption is coming, that in some mysterious way every death can be the preparing for a new kind of life. A hope that does not disappoint, like every tree aflame with a fire that does not consume.