I'm learning to love the sound of the leaves crunching beneath my feet this fall. However, that has not always been the case. With the changing of the seasons from summer to fall, I tend to feel a sadness come over me. For the longest time I chalked it up to seasonal depression and kept it moving. In this season, however, God has really been pulling me out of my comfort zone and challenging me to think about the WHY behind my sadness. After some introspection, I've come to the conclusion that this cloud over me has nothing to do with the fact that I hate being cold or that I'm dreading the impending doom of Winter in Indiana (dramatic, I know). While these things are true, I realized that at the root of the issue are a trove of memories I choose not to release out of fear for the emotions they may bring. I grew up so very poor, but my mom did everything she could to give us special memories. For some reason, the ones I cling to most now mostly seem to involve us outside making something out of nothing in nature. In the winter we would make snow ice cream (I am well aware now that snow is extremely dirty and should probably not be consumed, but in the 1990's we didn't care about any of that lol). In the fall, we would go outside and pick the most beautiful leaves we could find and coat them in wax to preserve them forever (or until they mysteriously ended up in the trash after she grew tired of picking up dead bits of leaves all over the house). She had the most beautiful way of seeing things that most people would trample over and never give a second thought and making them into something beautiful. For those of you who don't know, my mom passed away in 2007 from Leukemia after battling for a year. She was a superwoman in every aspect, but especially in being a mom. She loved with her whole heart. She was a God fearing woman and there was a strength about her that was different than anything I'd ever known. She was the most artistic person I knew and she had more talent in her pinky finger than most have in their entire body. She had no way of knowing I would have to live most of my life without her, but in the 10 years God gave me with her, she left me with so many precious memories of her and her love that a I can now use to feel closer to her. There are a lot of things in this life that are hard to feel and for me, grief is one of them that I choose to avoid. What I have been learning in this season, however, is the grief and joy can coexist. Joy comes in the mourning. I can look at the leaves and miss my mom and mourn the time we didn't have, but be happy I have these beautiful memories I get to carry with me and traditions I get to carry on with my own kids one day. I am learning that you don't have to suppress good memories out of fear of the emotions it may bring up. Emotions are a gift. Sadness could even be considered a gift. It is proof of having loved something so deeply its absence leaves a space in your heart. While writing this, I keep thinking about Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 says
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."
There will be seasons of immense joy. There will be seasons filled with grief. I want to encourage you the no matter the season, you will never be alone. God created us to to be the most complex creatures capable of feeling every emotion under the sun. So feel them all and feel them deeply. Love without fear of loss. Speak without fear of judgment. Laugh without feeling guilty. Be present in your life. Feel the crunch of the leaves under your feet and smile as the tears roll down your face. Because joy and sadness can exist in the same space and that is okay.
I love you.