Late Autumn of Life
There's only one word to describe that time of year between fall and winter when the trees have shed their leaves, skies are gray and the weather is cold and dreary: melancholy. Tired, weepy and as lonely as the bare branches that witness the annual death of their companions, I wonder if the late autumn of life will continue to grow longer and longer until the new birth of spring ceases to exist.
Autumn was not always this way. It was a busy time of bustling around to get ready for hunting season, which was of equal importance in our family to spring and summer's fishing season. As one ended, another began, and the circle continued throughout the year. There were always births, anniversaries and holidays to celebrate with loved ones. But in the autumn of life, loss becomes more common than new life, and some days the resulting grief is overwhelming.
Then, in the midst of this season, a holiday puts life's changes back into perspective. We stop for a day to give thanks for all the blessings we have received during our lives, and to remember that we still receive blessings every moment, whether we are thinking of them or not. God has given us the gift of life and of free will to choose how to use it. We have the beauty of Earth, the changing seasons, nature and children. We have good health that allows us to complete accomplishments and poor health to force us to push our bodies and minds in directions we would not otherwise have allowed them to go. We have laughter to make our hearts soar and tears that allow us to appreciate the laughter when it comes.
And we have death. It is a part of life that most of us don't want to face, especially when it means parting with the loved ones who have made our lives worth living and given us so many of the reasons we have to be thankful. When a season has been especially joyful, so many regrets set in at its end. Even though we know God will bring us a new season, it will never be quite the same. This, too is something to be thankful for, as each change renews us and brings us another step closer to what we will become.
Those with faith in God have down times; it is part of being human. Thanksgiving is a time to remember that our losses are blessings that will bear fruit as the circle continues and we reunite with our loved ones when our own work is done. In the meantime, we can be thankful for opportunities to share the memories that are what keep each of us alive far beyond death. Then we can extend the Thanksgiving holiday into a season in which each of us strive to make joyful memories that make everyone we come in contact with feel good about themselves, even during the late autumn years.
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