Note: This is the seventh essay in the series of “Why We Love Autumn.” I recently asked some friends who love autumn as much as I do to reflect on what made them so excited for autumn to arrive. The answers will be varied and have a different voice each post. Rachel is a fellow Calvarian who completely understands and joins me in geeking out in theology things. She currently loves John Calvin.
It’s the feel. I don’t mean the feeling – the inner stirrings of my heart that tell me one season is shifting to another (though that is important too). I mean quite literally, it is the feel of autumn that I love the most. My love is tactile.
I confess, I am awfully fond of summer. I live for the beach. When I am in the presence of sun, sand, and waves it is well with my soul. Family history and lived experience have made this chapel of sand and water the place to which I will forever return for healing and hope. It’s my retreat, literally and figuratively. And while the beach is wonderful at any time of year, it is in the summer that it most powerfully casts its spell on me. This identification of the beach with summer is so strong that even when I am far from sandy shores, I can still hear the lullaby of the ocean above the din of the city, and smell the surf in my climate controlled car. In summer, I get pulled into my own world and can forget…everything…everything else that I truly love.
But then, gradually, I am brought back to myself. It starts seemingly out of nowhere. A gentle breeze with the hint of a chill caresses my face, carrying with it the memory of things I thought I had left behind. Suddenly, the feel of a book in my hand is incomplete without a hot cup of tea in the other. My bare arms, which all summer have soaked up the sun, yearn for the cover and comfort only a hoodie can provide. My throat aches to yell itself raw during at least one college football game. My teeth tingle anticipating the bite into a firm, juicy apple.
My other senses come alive as well. The sound of rustling leaves is music to my ears. The smell of bonfires fills my nostrils and reminds me of fellowship. The taste of a pumpkin spice latte can be enough to turn my whole day around. And the sight of autumn’s radiant colors – from “the sea of orange” to vibrant red leaves – fills me with joy. And suddenly, I’m back in the midst of it all.
Sanctuaries are wonderful things, places where we can be replenished and renewed. But they are not meant to be permanent. Just as Jonah eventually had to leave the whale, we must emerge from the places that save us. But the temptation to stay is so strong. Only love can draw me from my chapel of sand and water, and that is precisely where autumn meets me. Right when I am ready to retreat from it all, autumn comes like a friend of mine to hit me from behind. It’s the feel that brings me back. The chilly breeze, the cozy hoodie, the crisp bite of apple. It’s like the touch of a loved one that rouses you from sleep. Whatever far off shores, or farther off corners of my mind, I go to, autumn is always there to stir me back to life.