The Autumnal Equinox has just passed, and there's no doubt change is in the air. It's cold when I step outside in the mornings now—a briskness that is uniquely Fall. There are spots of brilliant red in the maple trees, and chrysanthemums, pumpkins, and shocks of corn decorate yards and farmer's markets.

In our yard, the squirrels are scurrying everywhere, almost always carrying something in their mouths, often a chestnut still covered in its prickly husk.

I love this time of year. Perhaps after raising two children, it signals a return to order and routine after the summer. Certainly I am more comfortable in the cool weather than the hot. Yet there is an urgency lurking in the air, and the animals are keenly attuned to it. Hurry! Prepare! Stock up! Get ready for winter! I find it a bit unsettling. Should I, too, be doing something before it's too late?

This year's changing season coincides with other changing seasons of my life. My beloved father died exactly a month ago this week, and I find myself adjusting to a new reality without his physical presence. The celebration of his life and the gratitude for his unusually long time with us is punctuated at times with breathtaking stabs of pain and loss, often at illogical times.

Our sweet little 17-year-old cat, Marley, has just succumbed to the fibrosarcoma that slowly weakened her until she let loose of her ties to this life.

These are losses, yes, but they each come at the end of a wonderful cycle of robust and happy living.

I am grateful for my childhood on a cattle farm, where the cycles of life and death are as normal and expected as the sun's rising and falling. The garden and the crops are planted, grow, and are harvested. Animals, including beloved pets, are born, live, and die. Seasons come and go…and come again.

And thankfully, my faith also informs my appreciation for these cycles—these seasons. I don't believe death is the end of things, though the changes death brings are often sad and painful.

So in this particular season, I am resting in the mystery, in the bittersweet truth that changes take place but often as a cycle, a circle if you will.

And what is a circle if not a beautiful symbol of eternity and hope?

Photo credits: “Hope” by Og-Vision via BigStockPhoto, my favorite source for high quality stock photography.
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