The wind is howling, rushing down the mountain through the trees; they are possessed with it. I can feel them bowing and bending. I can hear the violence of crashing branches. Surround sound starts on one side of me and then swirls around to the other. In the wee hours, when my mind is wide awake, darkness forces me to use only my ears to discern what is happening outside my windows. There is a low reverberation which crescendos to a howl. The fierce swishing sound paints a picture in my mind of the last of the fall leaves ripped from their branches and slammed into the ground. They rattle and crackle as they fall. I bet they are caught up in a whirlwind making a leaf cyclone, which moves across the ground in the air. Suddenly, the noise drops away and silence whispers, but only for a moment. In my mind’s eye, the leaves drop suddenly, like rocks, to the blanket of color on the ground, but then take flight again with the next whoosh down the mountain. The rafters creak with the power of the gusts which blow forcefully. The house has a chill because the Siberian express is racing through the valley in a hurry to arrive to its destination before Thanksgiving. All the leaf blowing and raking is undone, I just know it. I can hear empty branches clanking together. It is the sound of winter arriving blustery and cold. Sometimes season change is gentle like the quiet unfurling of leaves, and other times it comes like a freight train. Sometimes it is both in quick succession.
Life is similar, in the changing of seasons. Gradual, barely noticeable changes take place and you look up one day in a new place. Other times the season is thrust upon you without the slightest warning, and you grapple with how to survive. Either kind serves the same purpose. Transformation. From one season to another. The same landscape, yet entirely different.
Living life is learning to recognize both types of changes are part of the deal. I can wish for gentle changes all day long, and often do in the midst of the more difficult ones. Yet, the kind that plunge me into a new place abruptly, require my trust in God to grow by leaps and bounds. They force me to question my beliefs and to seek out the answers to my questions. The more sudden changes leave me feeling exposed and vulnerable. I grope around in the dark and it seems God is far away. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the windstorms of life, when the howl is so loud you cannot even hear God, he draws near. In the moments when you feel afraid and ripped apart, he is as close as your breath. Even when you cannot feel him, he is there holding you up, breathing life into the dead and brittle places. Sometimes being stripped down to the bareness under all the fluff is a necessary thing. The chill and the complete undoing feel like cruelty in the midst of the change, but after the winter, comes the spring. Always. You can trust in the reliability of that as a fact, and when your unexpected season changes come, it is important to remember it.
In the morning, the trees will be mostly bare. The windstorm will have done its job and moved on to the next place the wind takes it. The winter will be upon us and its transformation work will go underground where we cannot witness it…yet. Darkness and cold will be a cloak worn for a season. An important season. Required for roots to grow deep. My eyes are getting heavy with the sleep that rarely comes. My mind is slowing now that the words are spilled upon the page. There is a chance I might catch a few winks before dawn. The wind is still whipping outside my window and now I hear the rush as a song. A reminder that seasons are changing. Ready or not, transformation is upon me.