A sign hangs in my office that says “Change is inevitable except from a vending machine.” Sometimes change happens gradually, sometimes suddenly, but it always happens. Friday afternoon as I drove home I spied the first signs of yellow in the king of Ash trees that line our street. I usually mark the beginning of Autumn as this tree begins to take on its golden coat for a season. Tipped at the ends of the leaves, it was signifying what the calendar was marking—the first day of Fall. Saturday morning as I stepped out of the house and headed down the road, I was amazed at the change in just 14 hours. The crisp evening air and the early morning sun had painted the tree with golden strokes. There was no mistake that Summer was fading. By late that afternoon as I drove home, the tree was nearly engulfed in its mantle of gold. Sunday morning my husband and I walked to church. As we approached the tree, I relayed my surveillance of the tree over the past 48 hours. The tree was fully laden with gold leaves. It happened so quickly, so subtly and from my perspective, so effortlessly.
It would be nice if changed happened quickly, subtly and effortlessly in my life. Rarely does change happen effortlessly, and to be fair, I’m not sure what a tree goes through when its leaves change. But it is beautiful to me that the tree moves through the seasons on cue with the right resources in place. When I watch those beautiful leaves fall as Winter moves in, the deadness seems to engulf the tree, but it waits patiently for Spring and the beginning of something new. That same tree has the most beautiful bright green leaves in the Spring and is usually the first to bloom. The picture of the tree is the picture I’d like to live out in my own life. Whether change comes quickly or over an extended period of time, I want to see it as potential for something good, something vibrant with life, something to benefit the future.
Change may require the death of something. Like the leaves falling in winter, the deadness seems bleak and dreary. I long for the hint of green to halo the trees as they begin to produce the buds of Spring. But in the Winter, there is preparation and waiting and resting and finishing. All of those things are necessary for the new season to begin. I’m not sure I like waiting and resting and finishing. None of those words sound exciting or encouraging to me. Yet they are the very foundation for a good beginning. The grief of loss is very difficult! It sometimes feels like it can’t be overcome. But just as difficult is a new beginning with no preparation, no waiting, no resting and no finishing what was before.
The seasons of change are beautiful. They each have something unique to offer. Watch closely this Fall. Learn from the trees. The presence of change is inevitable. The power of change brings impact! The potential of change brings fresh new dreams begun. The purpose of change is to help us learn to trust not in ourselves, but in the God who is the author of new creations, new seasons, new dreams.
Here’s to Autumn leaves, hot apple cider and crisp fresh air!
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)