But like most of my readers I've lived a life shaped more by the academic calendar than the agricultural or fiscal one. So my new year really begins in late August or early September.
This last week I realized that this is a big part of why autumn is my favorite season.
Huh. What does that mean?
Oh, I like autumn leaves and crisp air and football and school supplies. But especially I like starting a new un-messed-up season. Each new "school year" comes rich with opportunity, possibility - and unmarked by failure, poor decisions, falling behind, shame, guilt, and the like.
Do you find yourself thinking this way? It sort of works for me, but I think there's a better way to respond to the challenges of life.
The problem is that I seem to be powerless to live up to my own standards. I need someone else to show me what's best, to rescue me from myself, to make things right, to heal and strengthen and sustain and lead. To provide the courage and creative energy for responding constructively to the messy parts of life.
Look at this amazing story from the book of Isaiah, this prophet transformed - in a moment! - from a "ruined man" into an ambassador:
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:Seems too easy, doesn't it? That must have been some coal. Or some seraph. Or some powerful King!
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
My new friend Wendy and I - along with about 70 pairs of people in our church - are going through a study on "hearing God's voice."
This last week the lesson asked us to jot down a few of the major concerns or issues on our minds at the moment. (My fears of messing things up and being rejected for it came rushing forward to volunteer!)
Then we were asked to picture Jesus standing in front of us, gently taking each one of those issues from us, putting them in a sack and tossing the sack over his shoulder. "Let me take care of these for you. Now, come for a walk with me. I would love to talk with you..."
After that we spent time meditating on the passage from Isaiah.
It was just what I needed.