I love autumn. The beautiful colors, rising mists and falling leaves, the crisp morning temperatures and the return of rain to my parched patch of forest. As my school volunteering is starting up again for the year, my garden is finally closing up shop. My poor chickens are all semi-naked in their annual molt, and cheerfully gulping down grain with nary an egg in sight. November brings both beginnings and endings, and it’s own unique blessings. It is also in terrible danger of being overshadowed entirely by all-things Christmas.
I am choosing to focus this whole month to focus on Novembers sweetest gift: the reminder to be Thankful. It is very easy to feel thankful right after the glory of summer, with tomatoes still covering my countertops as the last of our harvest finally ripens. Memories of our adventures in summer sunshine bring a lot of joy in the midst of rain showers and muddy footprints that the animals have chosen to decorate the floor with. The crayons hiding under my table next to a crispy bit of play dough are sweet testimony to our grandsons’ recent visit.
Darkness falling early seems to beg me to sit cuddled up by the fire. Daring to disengage from my busy schedule to focus for a few minutes on the year flying by. Even perhaps wrapping up in a blanket to brave the night long enough to search for meteors flying by in the brilliant blaze of stars. Breath misting in the cold night air. Away from the noise for just a few minutes, to savor the quiet and spend a few minutes conversing with the One who has blessed me so much.
I want to savor November, because I, quite frankly, am TERRIBLE at stopping, resting, pausing and every other form of slowing down. We have chickens, fish, canaries, dogs and cats, and they all need constant attention. Bee hives need monitoring. Ministries want my time and attention. When my children return to the nest, Mommy rolls out the red carpet and serves the fatted calf, with a side of “anything you want, honey!”. Grandkids snag my attention with every little smile, giggle or frown and I am incapable of turning away. My garden is large, and during the harvest, I become it’s slave, for lack of a better word. Time waits for no man, and neither does any ripe zucchini, pear or tomato.
I love to craft, so I often have a few projects going at once, but never more than 372….-ish. Alright, honestly, I have a gazillion projects, all in varying stages of completion. Paints, crayons, ink stamps, paper, and every form of scrap book supply. I have fabric to be cut out for quilts, blocks to be assembled as quilts, and assembled tops to be quilted into quilts. I also have roughly a thousand ideas for quilts saved on Pinterest. Then there are the recipes to try, the plants to grow, the jam to make, and (literally) four thousand other things saved for me to dive into if I ever get bored. I need a Pinter-vention.
So I need November. I need it to slow me down, and focus my heart on the days ahead by stopping to be thankful for the days behind. Hard days, great days, and all the other kinds of days. I could easily run from volunteering, to gardening, cooking, cleaning the chicken coop, and flinging together something festive with glitter and glue before I head out the door to Bible study. I end up shiny with glitter, but dull, frazzled. Tuckered out. The daily flurries of activity could easily carry me right through December straight into the gloom of winter, without ever having taken a moment to stop. To pray. To focus on where I’ve been, where I’ve come, and the One who I am aiming to serve in the midst of my whirlwind. November begs me to be a Mary in the midst of my Martha tendencies.
It turns out, I do not need to save November from Christmas. I need November to save me FOR Christmas. Because Jesus saved me, I need November to give me a breathing space to stop for a bit so I can sit at Jesus’ feet. So I can gaze into His Word to remember anew why Christmas matters. So that when December arrives, November has saved it too. Saved it from being one more long blur of activity in this year that has nearly flown by. It is in thankfulness that I can look my directly in the face of my own sin and see the enormity of what the Cross means to me. By sitting at Jesus’ feet and counting my blessings, I am reminded afresh to bring everything to Him….the heartbreak, the hurts, the joys and all of my concerns from the biggest to the smallest.
1 Peter 5: 7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.“
If we are doing this, then we will be care- free. How many of us are so busy, so burdened, so frazzled, that the idea of being care-free is almost too much to hope for? It is so easy to run in a thousand directions every day, and feel like we are actually getting no where. This does not mean we will not have hard days, days haunted by pain or grief…but we will still find our rest in Him. We will know in the deepest part of our hearts that our circumstances do not define us, and that because we trust Him, we are safe. He is holding us. We just need to pause long enough to give Him thanks by remembering all He has done. We need November.
photo credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash