Monday, September 17, 2012

Hope Springs in Autumn

 As I watch the sun set on another Arizona day, I can feel a hint of fall in the air—Arizona fall that is. In Arizona fall means that the daytime highs normally remain under 100F and the nights once again cool off to the point that one can turn off the air-conditioning and draw in the cool evening air. It also means the end of our summer monsoon. I will miss the refreshing rainfall and the dynamic thunderstorms that have marked the last two and a half months. However, I won't miss the high humidity that comes with them. I like living in a dry climate, one in which I can open a bag of chips and leave it unsealed for a week without the contents going soggy. Last week I left a granola bar on my desk and when I came back a couple days letter to eat it found it soggy. No, I'm not going to miss that.

I love the powerful thunderheads that build over the mountains during the summer storms. I love the vivid colors that splash across them as the sun sets. But I also love the clear sun-drenched sky that characterizes most of our days. Living in Arizona, a cloudy day counts as a rare treat rather than a typical day. I lived in Seattle for six years and while I truly loved it, I wonder sometimes how I endured the persistent cloudy grey skies. I thrive on sunshine and we certainly have it in abundance here.

When I moved to Arizona many years ago to attend graduate school, I certainly didn't anticipate that I would end up calling this state home. I'm not really sure what I envisioned. Life in those days went forward without a master plan. Now that I think about it, much of my life seems to have played out that way, guided by a master designer who thankfully has orchestrated my steps and missteps into an intricate tapestry.

Last year at this time my world was being turned upside down. Pulled away from the work and life we had invested in for several years, I found myself struggling to define my focus and purpose. I felt myself adrift, even abandoned. I could have sang with Elton John “Don't let the sun go down on me.” Now, a year and many trials and hardships later, I can say that the sun has not gone down on me. Often we think of fall as a season of closure, a time when the green of summer comes to an end in the vibrant colors of fall (not so much here in Arizona though). Spring is the time of new beginnings, not autumn. But for me, this year, autumn seems to be spring, and as the weather cools from the egg-boiling summer temperatures to the pleasant warmth of fall, I sense new hope and new perspectives. I don't know what the future holds and there are still many obstacles and challenges even in the immediate future, but God is renewing my heart, mind and spirit.

Hope springs anew – even in the autumn.

(Note: Not all pictures in this post were taken in Arizona.)

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