The leaves are beginning to change. To be sure it’s the early stages here, but they’re changing nonetheless. I’m gauging it by the tree across the corner from my new caffeine port. A maple tree, nicely trimmed from beneath to politely allow pedestrian passage, begins on it’s lower reaches in a summer emerald tone. As it progresses towards it’s ultimate upward reach though it begins to tan slightly through the middle. The uppermost branches are a bit of burgundy, finally yielding to a Fall orange as the tips are reached. It’s early Fall here. Most are probably not even recognizing the subtle shift. I do. I’m not from here. I mean I am, but my memories of Fall still move me back to earlier days in Upstate New York and the unbelievable blanket of color that has already unfolded by this time. It takes about a week longer here in the Northwest and the coloring doesn’t compare and it’s probably the only time now that I still feel as a foreigner.
I think that this is probably because I know what I’m missing. It’s not a postcard for me. It’s not a poster in a Hallmark store. It’s a real experience in a real life for a really long time. I’ve had it and I miss it. There’s a hole now of sorts. I have an opportunity to travel back in a few weeks through parts of the Midwest and into the Northeast and whenever I contemplate it, the imagery that comes to mind is sunshine, Indian Summer blue sky days and color, real color. I don’t think of the people I may see, I think of the sights, the sounds of crisp leaves under my feet, the smell of orchards. I also think of grain elevators rising above nearly forgotten towns with tree lined streets, but that’s for another time. It’s still the color that draws me. I feel it. It wraps around my memories and it’s encouraging me forward through the next few weeks. I don’t realize that I’m missing it until I begin to see it revealed more and more here. For sure it’s not perfect, but it leads me to what is perfect in my memory.
I’m beginning to see my faith community that way. We have grown significantly in the past few years and I think it’s even been magnified as of late. We are so much better at sharing family moments than we have been. We share life, death. We share victory and defeat. We cry some and laugh much. In many ways we’re becoming more family than the biology that we’ve existed in. We have become real and honest. Color has come in great waves and it’s becoming attractive. Don’t be mistaken, our community has many faults. After all, I am leading them. That should tell you something. It’s a bit foreign for me, to be honest. I’ve not been known for hospitality. I’ve not been known for an affinity for family. I’m still pretty independent and self centered. But I’ve become surrounded by people who aren’t and my faults have been lessened by their strengths and it also works the other way around. Color is coming to our lower branches and beginning to bleed outward, and the further outward it bleeds, the deeper it becomes and more it draws. And I believe it’s drawing people who are yearning for the color that they once had.
Everyone had it at one time. They were created with it. We were all created with it. And ever since it left, if indeed it did leave, we’ve all been drawn back to every hint of it wherever it gets revealed. We yearn for relationships that are open and honest and true. We were created for that. In the garden, the one named Eden, we were created for relationships and we were to be surrounded by color. We yearn for family that is close and caring and even a bit boundary setting. We were created that way. It’s color to our souls. It’s attractive to most. I say most because I’ve seen those who run full tilt away from anything resembling intimacy. Some are only comfortable in complete anonymity. I’ve come to believe that those types are shocked deep within themselves, so deep that they don’t even comprehend it. Their inward selves are shocked by the great chasm between what is and what was meant to be. It’s not unlike how magnets can either attract or repel, depending on how they are situated in relationship to each other. But that’s the exception and not the rule. Personally I’m tired of living my life according to the exception. We’re different now, the faith community and me. Some may come and then run like the wind out of our midst. That’s alright I guess. I’m not sure that I’ve come to the point of being able to help them bridge that chasm. God can though so I leave them in His hands. But others will see the color spread and they’ll stop long enough to watch. And when they do, they’ll be hooked. My prayer is that they’ll stick around long enough with us to witness Fall return once more to the garden.