Autumn Season of the Soul
Before the calendar even says that autumn has arrived, I decorate my front door with a big pumpkin inscribed with the words, “Happy Fall Y’all!” This year, the oppressive summer heat seemed to drag on endlessly. So, I proudly plopped my pumpkin on the door at the very beginning of September – never mind the hot sweat dripping down my back as I arranged the décor. But more than being another season in nature, autumn is an important season in my journey with Christ and has special significance as a season of my soul.
Just as seasons are a way of describing what we notice in the rhythms of nature, seasons are a way of describing what we notice about rhythms in our spiritual lives. Fall is a season of varied activity in nature, representing both harvest and loss. For some cultures, autumn is a season of harvest - a time for celebration and thanksgiving as crops are gathered. Fall is also a season of loss. As days become shorter and temperatures become cooler, leaves stop producing the green-tinted chlorophyll which helped them capture sunlight and energy needed for growth. Eventually, trees begin releasing their leaves, protecting them from being stuck with thousands of unproductive appendages.
I remember one not-so-long-ago autumn season in my soul. I was experiencing abundant harvest in my relationship with God. He had invited me to new ways of serving Him and I happily accepted those opportunities. While this new path put increasing demands on my time and energy, I still held on to all my other responsibilities and priorities. It took some time, but eventually I saw what I was doing was unsustainable and unhealthy. I honestly didn’t want to ask God if there was something I needed to let go of - still, I could see the signs that change was needed. Much like a tree leafed-out in all the colors of fall, it was time for me to relinquish unproductive appendages in my life. I sensed the Lord inviting me to let go of things that were getting in the way of growing deeper in relationship with Him. It was during this season He revealed some hard truths. There were things I held onto because I believed they were ways of serving God. Gently and patiently, Jesus helped me see what I was really doing was serving myself.
Letting go is difficult. Especially when what needs to be released seems like such a beauty to behold. Like stunning autumn-colored leaves in hues of red, purple, orange, and yellow, things that adorn our lives can be beautiful because they are useful for a season of time. A tree releases its leaves when they are no longer needed for energy and life. In the autumn season of the soul, we are invited to let go of things that are life-draining rather than life-giving in relationship with Christ.
What is God doing in us in the autumn season of the soul?
He invites us to deepen our relationship with Him. This sustains us through difficult processes of letting go.
He invites us to release things in our lives that are no longer needed.
He invites us to relinquish things that bring a false sense of worth.
He invites us to thanksgiving in both harvest and loss.
Spiritual Disciplines for Autumn
Authenticity - Pray with authenticity and vulnerability. Bring your whole self to God.
Stillness - Practice being still with God.
Acceptance - Accept the season of releasing.
Examen – Pay attention to God’s presence and activity in your day. (See blog Take a Closer Look)
Mentoring - Come alongside others and encourage their growth in Christ.
Releasing - Let go of what gets in the way of deepening relationship with God.
Self-care - Pay attention to your mind, body, and soul as you journey with God.
Slowing - Be attentive to the present moment.
The seasons in nature are a tangible reminder to me that the Christian life is a journey through seasons. One of the most profoundly impactful things I have learned over the past few years is to develop an awareness of the season of my soul. Because just as there are seasonal rhythms in nature, so too there are seasons of the soul. The writer of Ecclesiastes contemplates in the third chapter, “for everything there is a season.” No matter what your spiritual or chronological age, seasons of the soul are a vital part of your journey in life with God.
For more information see blog Seasons of the Soul and Winter Season of the Soul.