The Metaphor of the Changing Seasons
Posted on November 5, 2015
Every fall, the leaves change colors, and I swoon. There’s something about the breathtakingly bright reds, yellows, and oranges illuminated in the glow of an autumn afternoon that makes my soul sing and fall on its knees before the work of such a beautiful creator.
In fact, some colors come to life that are such a vivid, fiery hue that I can’t even describe the color I’m seeing or even recall having seen it before. This fall marks the completion of my first full year here in the mountains of Western NC, and even though I know I’ve seen these changes before, each time they creep up, it’s as though my eyes are seeing them for the first time and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the changing world with all its bight foliage and rolling mountain views around me.
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry hosts by the breath of his mouth… Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Psalm 33:4-6, 8-11
Perhaps because I am an outdoor enthusiast, or perhaps just because God is so creative, the beauty of God in His created world always seems to resonate certain truths about his character with my soul. The changes of the physical seasons for me reflects greater truths about the ever-constant, consistency of God intersecting with the death and rebirth of Christ. There is a cyclical pattern, an order, a dependable procession to the seasonal changes that occur every year. The chill of winter will always precede the new, green life in spring, and spring will give birth to the fullness of summer. Summer with fade into autumn as the days get shorter, and in a brilliantly spectacular show of color (that is, in my opinion, the most stunning of all the seasons), fall will slowly give way to the death of winter. Each season so markedly different, with such great implications on the way we live, and yet so beautiful in its own right and time.
This fall, particularly, had me reflecting on the paradox of the beauty that is the dying world around us. It’s a time that ushers in a season of harsh cold, limited light, even depression; things die in the winter. Yet, fall lights the leaves on fire and fills us with sheer joy at the crisp air and exhilarating vibrancies around us. How remarkable that the transition to a season of death is so beautiful? That life’s last breath is the most brilliant one before giving way to bleakness? I started thinking about Christ’s ominous and enigmatic warnings to his followers towards the end of his life; that he would suffer many things, be rejected, be killed, and after three days, that he would rise again. I then thought about his death on the cross, as he labored out his last breaths and cried out to the Father in his anguish. I thought about the bleakness and despair when a promised savior hung lifeless on a cross and how it must have seemed that all hope was lost. I wondered what those followers of Christ must have been thinking and feeling during those three days after Christ died, before they witnessed him risen. They were clinging to the thread-like hope of a promise that Jesus said he would rise from the dead. There is a song called “Buried in the Grave” by All Sons and Daughters that speaks to this interim, bleak period of waiting and hoping, and the hope that is consummated in his resurrection.
Of this interim waiting time, they sing: “There was a day we held our breath, and felt the sting of bitter death when all our hopes were buried in the grave. Our eyes awake, our hearts were torn between our faith and what we knew- before our King was buried in the grave.” Later, after word of Jesus’ rising had spread, they sing this proposed reaction: “There was a day we looked for proof that you had risen from the tomb, and all our doubts began to roll away. We touched the scars upon your hands; You kept your word, O Son of Man! You buried death by taking on the grave.” Imagining what this time must’ve been like for Jesus’ followers just leaves me undone; they were facing the tension between what they knew Jesus had said and the reality of the cold-dead body wrapped away in a tomb. Then finally, against all physical rules and presumptions, their promised Savior did in fact return to live, conquering death to rise from the grave.
In the picture of Christ’s sacrifice, in his standing in our place for the sins we have done and will commit, the fierce and just wrath of God was completely poured out and emptied on this blameless substitute. During Christ’s final moments, as life left his physical body and he exclaimed “It is done!” the horror of that moment was in fact a most beautiful moment in which our sins were forgiven and we became reconciled to God. This is the paradox that I ponder as the fall leaves light up and give way to death: the brilliant, necessary beauty of life’s final breath as it gives way to death, and the sure promise that life will spring forth again. I think this procession is a beautiful metaphor, illustrated by an eternal God who is ever-constant, and yet ever-changing in a beautiful, reliable cycle. Behold, he is making all things new! In Christ, even in death there is beauty and there is the promise of new life. Of that we can be sure.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Grace and Peace,
Chelsea Batten, PA-C