I wake up to a chill creeping in through my open windows and burrow, for five more minutes, into the goose-down comforter. It’s the blanket I excitedly pulled out last night, fluffing it up and spreading it across my bed, as a welcoming ritual for forecasted cooler temperatures. A few minutes later (I lied about it being five) my bare feet finally touch the wooden floors and I am jolted into the chilled day. As I turn into the kitchen on my way to make coffee, I pause and take in the picture gifted to me: flowers in my vase have dried up and their petals are drooping as waning sunlight filters in.
Fall is upon us and we begin to learn, once again, to let go and trust and rest for a while.
We are invited to muse on the pain that can accompany these changes.
The summer months have been long and dry in many parts of the northern hemisphere, including my own little corner of the world. The only refreshing moments for me have been the visits from loved ones who, thanks to vaccines, have been able to join me in Minneapolis from Mexico City and central Indiana.
On this particular chilly morning I notice that there are remnants from one last visit from my brother: an unwashed French press full of grounds from yesterday. A pang of loneliness fills my morning’s solitude, and I wrap a soft throw around my shoulders to ward it off.
I always feel this way when letting go and trusting that familial joy will visit again eventually. It feels like an empty stomach that isn’t sure if it wants to gobble up everything in sight or if it will vomit without much warning. Cold pain accompanies change and I need a blanket for warmth.
I shake off the loneliness, having washed the press, as water steams on my electric kettle while I grind up new coffee beans. There is much to do today and soon the need to email, make phone calls, and join online meetings will preoccupy my brain, and I won’t remember to let go and rest. The modern Western society which we have created is always pushing us to move forward even when the natural world around us is taking stock and slowing down. Even when our stomach lurches, the voices around us which promise safety through profit tell us that we cannot let feelings get in the way and that we cannot afford a slowing down to let go and rest.
Painful changes are simply swept under the rug.
Sacred text tells us that, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20). Scripture is inviting us to understand that there are times of change in which our innermost selves need to be held in warmth and love as we grieve that which is happening around us. It is the same with the change from the warmth of summer to the chill of fall. The days will grow shorter and nights will become colder. The days of reconnecting with loved ones outdoors under the hot sun will soon give way to one more pandemic fall of praying alone beside warm candle fires and wringing out wet cloth facemasks while asking God to have mercy.
Instead of moving us along before we are ready, the Divine will be our warm garment on cold days and will invite us to sit softly with our wounds.
The One who has created us will join us on a chilly day when we find ourselves alone, and sit with us for a cup of coffee in order to ease the pangs of loneliness. As we watch the waning sun filter in and shine on falling flower petals while leaves begin to burst into bright oranges, yellows, and reds, our Creator will pour balm into that which hurts. Another year’s fall will remind us that change is indeed painful, and that we are meant to feel it. However, if only we pause from our frantic lives, we will also experience God pulling up a chair and breathing hope into this season of change, and pain, and rest. May it be so for all of us. I pray for me and you:
Creator of the warmth and cold, have mercy on us.
Be with us as leaves burst into color and then wither away.
Giver of life and Counter of days, have mercy on us.
Be with us as we navigate life in these pandemic times.
You who fashioned the Harvest Moon, give us your peace.
Wrap us in your warmth as cold days envelop us.
You who understand the deepest of pain, give us your peace.
Pour balm into our wounds and sit with us.
Blessed are you for the reminder that change is painful and that, even so, we are never alone.
Deacon David Rojas Martínez is the Community Engagement and Education Coordinator at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. David received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Valparaiso University and his Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary. Originally from Cuernavaca, South Minneapolis is where David feels most at home in the United States. David is a consecrated deacon of the Lutheran Diaconal Association and is passionate about walking alongside people of all ages in their faith-life journeys. David has a mom, two older brothers, three older sisters, four nieces, and eight nephews who live between Mexico City and Frankfort, Indiana. Considering himself a connoisseur of tacos, cheeses, teas, and beer, David spends his free time exploring the Twin Cities for the next delicious bites and sips.
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