Even though it happens every year, I still marvel at the changing of the seasons. I think many people do. We celebrate the first signs of spring—noticeably warmer weather, the first few blossoms, the animal world waking up again. We bask in the summer sunshine and revisit seasonal icons like barbecues and lemonade. We admire the unique beauty of the changing leaves in fall, donning scarves, boots, and anticipation for the holiday season.
November came quickly for me this year. It’s already starting to feel like winter (or what I’m used to referring to as “winter”) here in Massachusetts. The days are cold and the nights are colder. The colorful leaves are starting to fade and fall to the ground. The animals know winter is coming, too; every day, I see the squirrels scurrying up and down the trees, gathering nuts to sustain them through the long, cold months ahead.
I’m somewhat in awe of how animals instinctively know what their function is. They rise every day, go about their work without delay or complaint, settle down to rest at night, and do it all over again the next day, and the next day, and so on until they die. There is a peace and a comfort in observing nature’s continual, persistent work: the work of nature being nature. It is reliable, like the changing seasons. Poet Wendell Berry speaks of the solace of nature in his poem “The Peace of Wild Things:”
When despair for the world grows in meand I wake in the night at the least soundin fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,I go and lie down where the wood drakerests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.I come into the peace of wild thingswho do not tax their lives with forethoughtof grief. I come into the presence of still water.And I feel above me the day-blind starswaiting with their light. For a timeI rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou annointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Until you have eradicated evil, do not obey your heart; for it will seek more of what it already contains within itself.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.