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Stay warm in heart and spirit when the chill winds blow

A November day in Meech Creek Valley
By on November 1, 2022
Photography: 
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I am fond of November, a month when nature shifts from the richness of autumn, with its pungent smells, colourful leaves, golden days, and temperate weather, to a kind of stark, minimalist beauty. 

The readings in our lectionary in this season before Advent frequently take on an urgent tone, reminding us of the need to attend to earthly things so we are ready for the heavenly things which will come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly. There are some spectacularly apocalyptic passages in the last Sundays after Pentecost, which often bring to mind some of the frightening scenes we recall on Remembrance Day (not to mention some of the current scenarios we hear of today, concerning climate, nuclear and economic threats).

But November in the land where we dwell is oblivious to all of these things. It is a month that prepares the earth for winter, slowly freezing the soil as it becomes covered in a new layer of leaves, under skies that are often solemn or bright with sunlight that comes from a sharper angle in the horizon. There is less shade without the foliage of deciduous trees when the sun is shining, and more sky to see on grey days.  

I love cool, crisp, solemn November days when tree trunks stand tall and hoarfrost gathers on branches, dry leaves, needles, and the stalks of grasses and plants. Walking on such sombre days is invigorating, with little fear of overheating or sunburn. A nice roadway or forest path, even city sidewalks and parks, become a bit magical and more contemplative with a touch of November frost.

November is a pathway into winter, as the triptych of spring, summer and fall slowly closes, and we are drawn into the last days of the year. Perhaps that is why some of the lectionary readings which remind us of the shortness of life and the imminence of death become more vivid for we who live on land where November is so pronounced.

In a reading from Luke that comes our way in mid-November of this year, we will hear Jesus speaking about apocalyptic things: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.” He speaks of many unpleasant scenarios (some eerily similar to things happening in the world just now), but he tells his followers to take heart, because challenging situations create opportunities to testify to God’s powerful love. 

He tells his followers to be unafraid of moving forward—to move along the path of life with confidence and trust—even with curiosity and a sense of adventure, because “not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

At our baptism we were signed with the cross and made Christ’s own forever. When hoarfrost appears around us, when the skies are filled with solemn portent, when the air starts to bite the skin, it means a new season is dawning; and when the world seems to be filled with scary things, it means God’s love is needed. 

Each one of us carries a spark of the fire of God’s love within us—a love that abides in us now and will receive us when we die. So, stay warm in heart and spirit when the chill winds of fear and foreboding blow against you, and steadfastly seek to share God’s love in all you think, all you do, all you say, and all you pray, every day of your life; and walk gently on the path God opens before you.

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