words by jenny
My Instagram and Facebook feed are filling up with photos of the beautiful changing leaves in the northern hemisphere of this great globe we live on. Everyone is all pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters and apple picking and hayrack rides. All around, in very physical and tangible ways the earth is professing change. The days grow shorter and more time is spent in the dark. The temperatures drop and tank tops and sandals are traded in for boots and warm mittens.
Seems like so many that I am close to love this season that is autumn. With open arms this time of year is embraced. A time of year when all that has been spring and summer will come to the end of itself. All growing is finished. All blossoms have bloomed. Nature has exploded with life and possibility and flourishing but now approaches the time to reset. To rest. To pull back. To let go. Now comes the time of the year when space opens up for a dormant season. A time when death and decay is welcome, because we know the hope and possibility of life in the spring is dependent on this time of quiet.
But here at the equator, very little in the natural world we live in is in this state of transition. It has started raining a little bit more than it did during the summer months, but that is about the only change. We continue to enjoy the warm, sunny days and the cool, crisp nights that living here in the Andes Mountains bring. And we continue with 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness, as we do everyday all year long. 6:30am – sun comes up. 6:30pm – sun goes down. All. Year. Long.
Now, I know better than to complain about this eternal spring weather that we find ourselves living in, but this Midwest girl LOVES her seasons. And I miss them terribly. Sure there are days when I am in the midst of a season that I would like to wish it away and have it never to return. Like those sweltering summer days when the humidity feels like it will literally smoother you. Or those winter days when the wind bites and you can no longer feel your body moving through space and you are dragging your kids to school through the snow and they are walking sooooooooooooo amazingly slooooooooowly. But even with those days that in the moment I would like to wish away, I love seasons and all that they represent with all my being.
More so than the change in temperature, I think that I miss the change in light. I love noting the day come spring when I find myself cooking dinner and I haven’t had to turn the kitchen light on because the daylight continues to flood in through the window, bringing with it the hope of long, lingering summer evenings. And there is just something so right about it being dark by 4:30 in the afternoon in the middle of December, as the day calls you to turn on the Christmas tree lights and crawl under a blanket with a good book. So while most reading this post are anticipating those cozy and dark afternoons, we continue on with 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness – just like every other day of the year.
The 5 years we spent in Chicago between being short-term missionaries and moving back to Ecuador long term was filled with many gifts for our family. One of those gifts was the chance to have the time and space to disconnect from life here in many ways. It gave us the opportunity to reflect and question how we had been living life here in ways that we couldn’t necessarily see when we were in it. And that space helped us in so many ways, but one that was important for me to realize about myself was this longing for seasons in my daily life.
So while we carry on with our t-shirts and sunscreen, I am attempting to be intentional about marking the seasons and passage of time in other ways. We are cooking chili and stew and other foods that feel like fall. I scoured thrift stores in the US before our move to find children’s books about the different seasons and holidays and there is now a basket in the living room with books that will be rotated throughout the year. We searched for pumpkins at the market to paint and to carve and to put around the house We are pausing to read liturgy written by a friend to mark the start of each new season. We are incorporating new Ecuadorian traditions and making some new ones of our own to remind ourselves just where we are in this year’s trip around the sun. Even without the changes in the natural world around us, we are attempting to be present and aware to time marching forward and the seasons of both growth and rest that God may be calling us into.
What are your favorite holiday or seasonal traditions? What are your favorite seasonal books, for kids or adults? This marking of seasons and gathering of traditions is a work in progress and I would love to have more ideas!