October might just be the death of me. Because I am a beauty junkie and I am hooked. Autumn enchants me.
“Seriously, mom? Do we have to stop again?”
My family knows that in October I’m apt to randomly pull the van over to take it all in. This month my bicycle weaves erratically on the backroads from golden fields to glowing trees. I know a woman who was so caught up by a glorious horizon that her minivan nearly cracked the speed of light last week. She may have been driving west to get over the hills and through the woods to gaze at the resplendent sky.
She may have been.
Wedded to October
Are you a beauty junkie too? Do you relish fall colors? You are not alone.
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house,” Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote. “Delicious autumn!” novelist George Eliot exclaimed, “My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” Anne Shirley agreed: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
God means for Octobers to grab our attention. It’s as if the pursuit of beauty was hard-wired in us human creatures. As if God tunes us to see fleeting beauty in creation so that we would worship the Creator, who is blessed forever.
In autumn, God shouts. Its beauty stabs our souls. The leaves rouse us and the colors wake us. I’ve written before how walking outdoors is good for our health. Here’s another reason why.
[W]orldly pleasures build up a crust around the soul that keep us from engaging with God…Genuine pleasures, enjoyed without guile and without regard for the approval of the masses, puncture this crust. A walk in the countryside, playing a sport for the love of the game, a good book (or even a third-rate book enjoyed with self-forgetfulness) — all of these inoculate us against the twisted mockeries that dark powers offer up in their place. What’s more, they have the ability to shock us awake when the dreary music of the World has lulled us into a stupor.
Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth
These leaves, that sunset—they do. They shock us awake when worldliness would keep us from engaging with our God. My beauty chasing ride at dusk, your walk through the park, our wide-eyed wonder at burning bushes and blazing trees is real. It is so real that it punctures the hard crust of dark, lulling pleasures.
This color is no accident. It’s the taste of the eternity God set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:1). His hand is all over these changes. God made the seasons.
I think he made autumn to point past itself to unfading beauty.
Touched by the Finger of God
This feast for our eyes whets our soul’s appetite. But we don’t worship created things, as beautiful as they are. We let October direct us to ultimate glory, to follow the rays of autumn sun to behold the greater glory of the beloved Son.
We have been touched by the finger of God. October beauty junkies acutely feel that touch. Autumn leaves are tiny theophanies, manifestations of the invisible God. Because we don’t see leaves alone, like we don’t see strings of letters in words once we really start to read. Readers see words.
And God’s children see a God’s glory when they see strings of blazing maple leaves. “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts,” Isaiah wrote. “The whole earth is full of his glory.”
October’s God Unveiled
God could have made our eyes see in black and white or pastel. He could have painted pigments in grayscale when fall sunshine leaves the leaves sans chlorophyll. But he didn’t. He placed in them vibrant crimson, orange and golden pigments instead.
This annual slow-mo color show unveils a certain kind of God. It reveals a good, kind God who calibrated my senses just right to capture this autumn glory. October’s beauty points past itself to a good and beautiful Lord who calls us to seek his unfading beauty in life’s every season.
But come October sunset, beware a silver minivan racing west.
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:4 (ESV)