To me, Autumn is by far the most beautiful season. Now, I love the promise of Spring, when all the trees bud and the daffodils and tulips push through the hard ground as harbingers of sunshine. And I love the leafy green canopies of lazy Summer days.
But Autumn's beauty demands my attention. Seemingly overnight, individual trees which had blended into a sea of sameness now are blazing with identities of their own - scarlet, gold, orange, nut brown. Each one is captivating. Glorious! Their colors catch me off-guard as I round the familiar streets of my neighborhood. Individually each tree is a wonder, but together? Together they create a symphony for the eyes!
Where does Autumn get the courage to blaze so brightly? Doesn't she know Winter is coming?
You'd think Spring might be the appropriate time to be so showy. Spring, the beginning of a new life-cycle, when Winter is so far away. Instead, Spring's buds are delicate. There is a fragility in youthful beauty. The pudgy hands and rounded cheeks of an infant, the awkward legginess of an adolescent, the smooth skin of a young woman. Innocence and wonder. This is the beauty of Spring.
Summer seems like a good time for additional vivid colors. After all, the roses are blooming, the camellias, the iris... why not the maple, the ash, the liquid amber? Summer is a wonderful season. Its heat forces both rest and recreation. Summer is shooing kids outside to play and taking family vacations and eating dinner on the patio, enjoying the long, long days. Summer is getting comfortable in new roles and hitting one's stride. This is the beauty of Summer.
Autumn's beauty is different than Spring's, different than Summer's because it is not born from newness or warmth but from long, cold nights. Curiously, for the colors to be their most brilliant, a foretaste of winter's chill must be introduced. As the trees sap slows down, the sugars in the leaves stay where they are causing the color change. We might say that Autumn has suffered a little. She's endured some dark times, experienced some lonely, cold nights. But Autumn learns that suffering can produce beauty! Humility, compassion, perspective, surrender -- all of these are what make a woman beautiful.
To be sure, Winter is around the corner! Winter will take us all. There is no escaping the Winter. But, one of my favorite bible verses summarizes a godly woman's attitude toward Big Scary Winter: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come!"
Until Winter comes for her, Autumn displays her beauty for all to see, and carpets the world with fearless love.