The Colorado aspens were at their peak of color last week when I jetted up to my parents’ home for a quick visit. We took a drive one afternoon to the summit of a highway pass just to experience the vista of the mountains in all of their golden glory—blankets of aspen leaves, fiery-gold against the backdrop of deep forest green. Like God had dripped glitter right down the side of the mountains and filled the valleys with flashes of gold before the deep quiet of the oncoming winter. One last hurrah.
October is filled with last hurrahs. Here in Texas, the seasons play a tug-of-war until summer relinquishes its death-grip and the cool breezes of fall eventually triumph.
As our family ages, these last hurrahs occupy my thoughts constantly. There are celebrated milestones to be sure, but the quiet ones—the ones slipped by unnoticed until the day I snap to attention and suddenly my kids are driving and graduated and moved out. Those are the shocking ones. And I shake my head and wonder when exactly these adult-children started showering on their own, never mind living elsewhere.
And as my parents age—that’s been a much harder transition. The roles are ever so slightly starting to reverse and this new season is a painful one. Dying to self is tough all around. No one wants to settle into a life of mere survival. We all desire to live, and live abundantly. But these trees—these glorious October aspens of Colorado—have an important lesson to share.
The lesson is this: there is a comfort in letting go. In surrendering our lives to God and allowing him to work his golden magic, dripping glitter down the mountainous sides of our lives, filling in the cracks of our brokenness. There is a beauty in bursting forth with one final explosion of color and then settling into the comfort of a life well-lived, well-loved. To allow ourselves to be eclipsed and enveloped by the warmth of the familiar. The settling in of winter is the promised respite after the uncertainty of fall.
Everyone has an October. That time of life just before the shedding when the tucking in of fall has begun in earnest. The last wild colors of youth burst forth in abundance and the comfort of dulled hues draw one to cozy fires and stillness of age.
It is in the elderly as they accept the quietness of life. The teenager when the raging storm has passed. The toddler’s tearstained face pressed against his mother’s cheek. The senior in high school right before leaving for college. The new mom after giving birth.
It’s in any one of us who, before ascending the latest unimaginable hurdle, grasps ourselves with both hands and bursts forth . . . leaving glitter in our wake, finally content to sink into the warmth and peace of our long-awaited winter of repose.