We call January the beginning of the “new year”, but any mother will tell you it is not. Once summer is over and school begins, “real life” starts. Fall is the beginning of the new year. It doesn’t matter if your fall begins in September or October. Fall is filled with schedules and meetings and obligations and festivals and events. Fall means a return to sports and practices and games. Fall signals an end to daylight savings time. Fall begins the countdown to Christmas.
Fall is our new beginning each year. The first cold wind startles us out of our summer lethargy and reminds us to prepare for winter. We drag our coats and sweaters and blankets out of storage and make sure our winter boots are still in good shape. We check the heaters and stock up on candles. We start thinking of stews and oatmeal and baked beans. And if you’re like me you start thinking of things you are going to do differently this winter, this holiday, this New Year. Because fall is also a time for new ideas. I don’t know why. Perhaps because in the back of my mind I know our “official new year” is looming up ahead, I begin to think of new ideas when the first crisp winds of fall arrive. I begin to think of things I want to change. I think of places I want to go. I think of things I want to do. I think of the new me I want to be.
A friend of mine suggested several months ago that I write about “new beginnings”. I guess it has sort of stayed in the back of my mind because I was thinking about it yesterday as I did some fall clean-up in the yard. I love gardening. Spring is my favorite time of year and I look forward already to the beautiful blossoms of the peach tree and the bright colors of the irises. Right now my yard is filled with leaves and dead flowers and seed pods and weeds. I tried to clean some flower beds and prune a few branches yesterday. Cleaning and weeding are not my favorite chores. And sometimes in the fall they seem even more burdensome because I know it will be months before I see the results. New beginnings are like that. Sometimes we have to go through pain and upheaval and messiness before we get to the “new”… to the “change” we are so looking forward to with anticipation.
Our little town is in the midst of just such upheaval. There are changes and improvements that need to be made. There are great ideas being discussed. There are people willing to work together to create something better. But in the meantime there is some messiness and pain to go through. There is some disagreement. There are disappointments. And there is work…so much work. But we will survive and progress to the “new”, to the “change” we are so looking forward to with anticipation.
My grandchildren’s school district is in the midst of a new beginning. The teachers have been on strike for a week. No matter how their concerns are settled, no matter when they return to work, changes have occurred…in attitudes, in expectations, in feelings. My grandchildren won’t feel as secure in their classrooms. They won’t feel as confident in the adults around them. But hopefully the strike will end in such a way that they will be able to at least see that adults can work through their problems and create a change that is better for everyone.
My life is going through some changes. I’m adjusting my attitude about my health and making some lifestyle changes. I’m thinking ahead to some possible changes in my career. I’m anticipating some financial changes. I’m making some changes in the creative areas of my life. Some changes are enjoyable, others are stressful. I don’t want to exercise more. I don’t want to face any challenges. I want everything to stay secure and predictable and comfortable. I think change frightens us because we know that some changes can’t be taken back. Some changes lead to other changes and we aren’t sure where they will stop. If a new beginning leads to a new life, will we like it? Will we ever be able to go back to our old life if we don’t?
We talked about sin and forgiveness in Sunday School this morning. God knew when he created us that we couldn’t do this alone. Life is just too complex for us to get it right the first time. So we stumble and fall, get up and try it again. I suppose what eventually draws us to the grace of God is the hope that we can do better, be better, live better if we begin again. “Give me one more chance and I know I can get this right.” I’m a firm believer in “once saved, always saved” and I’ll show you the verses to back it up. However, I’m also a firm believer in “if there is a way to sin we’ll try it”. Humans are born self centered and independent. I’m not sure why God chose to give us free will. Maybe unthinking robots just wouldn’t have provided much companionship. Free will is what we’re stuck with and we have to work with it.
Sometimes I know days in advance what I will write about here. I think about it and plan it in my head. Today’s topic just arrived unannounced. I guess it will seem like rambling to some. But I swear it all ties together if you think about it. Fall is upon us and it’s time for new beginnings. There are hundreds of possibilities. And that’s the real blessing of “new beginnings”…the possibilities. Which one you need, which one you choose, is up to you.