Soul Seasons

A pumpkin latte in my hand. From Not Starbuck’s. A cool crisp 62 degrees out. I am on a porch swing with a background of lush foliage, bleeding slowly from green into reds and browns and yellows. I am wearing my favorite brown sweatshirt, and reading a really great library book. The day ahead is miraculously full of nothing but open time, save playing with my kids, and later having some friends over for dinner.

OK, so almost none of those things is true. I do, in fact, have a pumpkin(ish) latte, from a place that is blessedly Not Starbucks. But the truth is, i am sitting in my office, preparing for a Saturday a.m. meeting and a Saturday evening prayer service–which drastically alters the setting, the costume, and not to mention the unfolding events of the day. While I do plan to spend time with my family today, it will be stolen time between commitments. Most of my friends live 2000+ miles away. There is no sweatshirt. Oh and by the way, it is 85 degrees outside, not 62, and within a few hours we will be back in triple digits. Good morning, Phoenix. Screw you and your sunshine. Ima enjoy this latte.

I don’t just like fall. I crave it. Every fiber of my being is begging me to dig out the boots, to put some chili in the crock pot, to plan a day-long hiking trip, to light a candle that smells like some blessed mix of apples, spice and outside, turn on some Neil Young and plan a big party for my friends–one that involves smoking some meat and a full day of baking. The calendar reads September, and my body and soul are refusing to believe the thermostat. They are urging me outside in a sweater, while my physical, tactile self has to pull back and say “wait a sec… it is *&^$%#@ hot outside!”

However long i live here, (been 5 years now) i don’t think my whole self will ever adjust to the loss of autumn. I can tell myself that it is so very worth it in January, when our “abundance of sunshine” brings freezing easterners out in droves. Or in March, when we can break out the sandals and swimsuits again. Or in April, when the wildflowers bloom in the desert foothills, a sign of the holy in the wilderness if ever there was one. For all of those certain and coming blessings, something in me has to grieve through September and October.

I’m leading an area women’s retreat next weekend, around the theme of Soul Seasons. As I prepare for that gathering, I am aware that everyone has a season that is to them what fall is to me. The season of the soul’s best self, the change that makes the year complete, the transformation that awakes every sense and makes way for new life. I hope to bring each season alive for the women who gather there, and point to the fullness of life reflected in the turning. We are desert people, but God has not forgotten us. The Spirit moves us, at least 4 times a year, to make way for new life, to engage all our senses anew, and to seek something holy in the world outside our window.

Did i mention that said retreat will be held in Prescott, where the overnight lows will be in the 50′s? Where thunderstorms might visit us daily, and where the leaves, however subtly, are beginning to turn? Where, after dark at least, it is not insanity to put on a sweater, and the mornings dawn full of pine-scented wonder?

If i failed to mention all that, it is only because i am concentrating so very hard on this pumpkin latte… on the fall-scape desktop background behind my writing window. On the jeans i dared to put on this morning, in spite of the climbing temperatures. If nowhere else, it is fall in my office, and that will have to do for now.

[photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/85625337@N00/367534836]

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • Mean Mom

    I’m definitely all about fall too, and even after having lived in this blasted desert for the last 33 years, I still mourn autumn every time September/October rolls around. Looking forward to Prescott.

  • http://www.akamary.com Susan (AKA Mary)

    I was born and raised in the desert, but it wasn’t until I lived in Chicago for 3 years that I really learned about seasons and how to resonate with them. Since we moved back to the desert (Southern California desert), I’ve retained that awareness, but with an observation that Desert seasons are “reverse” what Chicago seasons were. If Winter in Chicago = death, then Summer in California = Death. Fall = rebirth, Winter = Green, lush life and Spring = the last stolen days of beauty fading into Summer.

    That said, there is NOTHING like autumn in the cooler climates. My soul does, indeed, miss those days – bring on the PSL!

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      thanks for sharing, susan. i’m talking at my retreat about how our life/death seasons are different for everyone, and may even change at different times in our lives. and of course, depending on where we live! chicago winter sounds like the pits…

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