One of the discoveries that most surprised me during our years in Austin, was how much my health and wellness depended on the change of seasons. I expected to miss the changing of seasons, particularly summer to fall for this girl spoiled by the beauty of autumns in New York. What I didn't fully comprehend until I was immersed in the Texas climate for five years, is that the hardship extended beyond meteorology (a general annoyance of the unending heat and cloudlessness) to a kind of soul-fatigue. For my entire life I'd relied the change of seasons beyond my physical senses to my entire sense of well-being and the rhythm of life that resulted from the sense of wellness. My friend Terri introduced me to the phrase "geography of the soul", and when she did, I knew mine was shaped in the climate and contours of the Northeastern United States.
Of course, knowing that about myself didn't automatically require a cross-country move back to our home territory, but it did help a great deal in our discernment process. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking of several dear friends flung across the globe, in climates foreign to where we grew up together. In a few weeks they'll experience spasms of homesickness with each photo they see of jewel-toned leaf piles and apple-scented pumpkin farms. But they stay where they are, rooted in the greater geography of Christ's kingdom. Lord, grant them peace for each of their homesick senses.
For Brian and me, it was a tradeoff of costs, to follow Christ. We gained the geography of our souls at the loss of regular company with most of our kids and many of our dearest friends. It's a loss I'm still grieving (and maybe always will).
All of this to say, in this second half of life we're living - back in the beauty and comfort of four distinct seasons - I sit at the four corners of each year like a little kid waiting for her first glimpse of Christmas morning. We're currently enjoying the most glorious August days - mild heat, lots of sunshine, low humidity. Even as many friends and acquaintances in Texas are dealing with the fallout of a weather disaster, I'm walking through the park each day soaking up beauty and trying to give thanks while simultaneously praying for weather mercies for them.
September begins tomorrow, and I can feel the inner gears of my heart, mind, and body shifting to face the goodness of autumn. For our house that means, a semi-annual baking spree, a seasonal cleaning and rearranging of the house, dreaming up some autumnal roadtrips, and not least of all, a reorganizing of our daily calendars.
Oh my goodness, is there anything more satisfying than clean calendar pages, waiting to be marked with a freshly-sharpened pencil?!? And while this was true even when I lived in Austin, the delight of it is richer because I'm sitting by an open window with coastal breezes ruffling the pages. Later I'll be baking pumpkin-chip cookies and letting them cool with the aid of open windows instead of cranking the air conditioning to accommodate for the oven heat.
These are new mercies, indeed. I'll enjoy them even as I pray for those far away, experiencing the unique suffering of being geographically displaced, and trusting for new mercies for them as well.
p.s. If you need some blank calendar pages to help you change seasons, my friends at Fox Fine Printables have got you covered with an assortment of options for instant download.