This is my favorite time of year. Yes, I’m aware I’ve said and written this opening line, each October, for the past few years. Forgive my repetition my good friends. However, I really do love this time of year and I merely wish to share my happiness with the people who mean so much to me.
This past Sunday was a most joyful time at St. Nicholas. Our guest Courtney Reid assured me she had a grand time with us. Courtney sat in on our Bishop’s Committee meeting, offered some sound advice and proved to be a most welcomed presence. She was impressed with our choir and sang loudly, and with Episcopal pride. Courtney found Holy Innocents Hall to be large, inviting and a great gathering place and she absolutely loved our worship space. She said the church was “warm and comfortable, a holy peaceful place, like being home.” I couldn’t agree more.
After worship, there was more joyful noise in the Hall. Then again, a fresh Jarosch cake will always brings smiles and peals of happy noise. People stayed, talked, drank all the coffee, shared conversations and had fun. In the parish office our cracker-jack team was busy counting the offering and checking the books, making sure all is done just right. Next door in the pantry room, the Outreach Team was meeting, planning and setting a successful course for the church and making sure our presence in the Village is clear and well defined. After locking things up, turning off all the lights, making sure all is as it should be, I set out for St. Alexius Hospital in nearby Hoffman Estates to spend some time with Vernon. When I arrived, he was sitting up, half asleep, watching the football game. I gently touched his arm to awaken him. He smiled and took my hand. We prayed, I shared Jesus in the Holy Communion, blessed him, gave him a hug goodbye and set off for home.
It was close to 4pm when I finally made it back home. A long day to say the least, but a long day very well spent. Since I hadn’t eaten anything all day — aside from a piece of cake that was given me after worship — my appetite had been nudged, to say the least. Douglas had prepared a homemade, fresh chicken pot pie, baked the old fashioned way in a large, vintage oven skillet. It was amazing. I could have eaten the whole thing, as my hunger was that vast. I resisted. I did not fall victim to temptation and I made no late night raids to the fridge for another piece.
It was dark, the winds had picked up and the night was calling me. So, pulling on my running shoes, I ventured out into that Sunday night and set out for a long and leisurely walk. It was so refreshing. With what little I have atop this 57-year-old head, the winds till managed to sweep my hair this way and that. The trees swayed to and fro and leaves blew up into miniature “dust devils,” which is all the more appropriate as Halloween is soon upon us. Nothing to be afraid of. After all, it’s just God’s handiwork on display. God’s mighty hand playing with the very things He created. The sky was clear and the stars were bright. The more I walked, the warmer I felt which helped take the night chill out of the equation. At one point, I could not resist the urge to jump into a large pile of leaves that had blown together. It was joyful. Letting my child-like abandon take hold and direct my action made me feel all the more energized and refreshed. I could have walked the entire night.
Yet, that would be a bit much. In fact, it would almost be selfish on my part; to take in so much of a good thing and not leave a little bit for the next day. Like the homemade chicken pot pie that was waiting in the fridge, I’ll have more of that later and enjoy it even more so. And I will go out again and take another long walk, let the wind push me on and quite likely jump into another pile of crisp leaves that extends an invitation to me to come on in, enjoy, and be a kid again.
Autumn is color and sound, touches of brilliant red and burnt orange, vibrant yellows; and all these colors splashed across an earthly canvas. Winds that still have some warmth to them but slowly and assuredly inching more toward the north and producing a bite that will leave us chilled. And with that chill, we’ll think and wish of new life and early spring blossoms just making their way into the world. We’ll ponder warmer temps and the longer days of summer, followed closely by autumn again. All of this is God’s gift to us, the cycle of the seasons…enjoy and savor all of it. Hey, did I tell you, this is my favorite time of year?