Autumn has come to the West, and the leaves are turning. Outside my window, an aspen tree is just beginning its transformation. But beyond our back fence, the foothills of scrub oak are surrendering to shades of muted red, orange, and yellow.

I’ve been able to enjoy fall twice this year — remarkable considering how busy I’ve been at work. Three weeks ago, Mike and I went to the Tetons to flyfish with my dad and do some hiking. That far north, the cottonwood and aspen had already started their epiphany, and by the end of our week there, they had hit their color stride on cloudless, crisp days.

This in-between season is my favorite: the release of summer heat, the rising smell of earth, the visibility of change in beautiful, relenting ways. I soften too. I become aware. I open my arms to mystery and it transforms me.

In his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson writes:

We are dealing with something that we cannot pin down, we inhabit mystery, we can’t be cocksure about anything, we cultivate our attentive and reverent expectation before every person, event, rock, and tree. Presumption recedes, attentiveness increases, expectancy hightens.

This is the season of transformation. May my heart be like the turning aspen: blazing bright in warm discovery, willing to let go of all that has ripened, resting vulnerably through cold days, trusting in spring.


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