by Tim Patterson
PLYMOUTH, MI – Fall as a youngster was not fun. Maybe I should clarify that. Before I started school, Fall was a great time of year and filled with more fun than a boy should be allowed. At the first breeze of cool air following a long hot West Texas summer I began to get excited about the days and weeks that lay ahead. I knew that within just a few days all the leaves would begin to fall from the elm trees that lined the streets of Kermit and I would literally have piles of fun for weeks.
My dad would rake the fallen tree clothing into enormous mountains that would be strategically located on our property. These huge heaps of dying deciduous delights were much more than decaying leaves, but they were the very building materials for houses, burrows and caves. They also made a dandy bed for an afternoon nap.
As soon as the seasons began to give way to the other, I knew that Halloween and all its trappings were waiting just around the corner. My Aunt Wilma’s famous popcorn balls would soon be sticking to my teeth and palate, and my siblings and I would be happily trying to pry them loose. More candy than anyone should eat in several years would be gathered and consumed in a matter of days, and on some occasions hours.
We didn’t have enough money to buy costumes at the grocery store for Trick-or-Treating, so we always dressed as hobos. All that was needed was a pair of my dad’s work pants, an old shirt, his boots and some of mom’s makeup. We could have developed our own line of clothing called Hobos R Us. However, one year we dressed my sister as an angel. A nightgown and a halo made from a coat hanger and some tin foil was all that was needed. She already looked like an angel, but only acted like one when she was asleep.
Hot on the tail of Spook Week was Thanksgiving. This was more of an adult time, but the food was great and getting together with all the cousins was fun for the most part. One cousin always bloodied my nose, and each time he said it was an accident. He got his later in life.
Then of course came the most glorious holiday of all. The holy grail of holidays. The Mecca of merriment. Christmas! The holiday for which all the rest of the year waited. All of this was part of the excitement I felt as a 5 or 6-year-old when the fall season began, but all of that changed when I started to wade through the trenches of school. To say that I had an intense dislike for school would be to understate the fact.
I was a severe asthmatic and spent many weeks every year in the hospital or at home in bed, and subsequently I had gaping holes in my education. These holes created frustration and eventually an attitude of despondence, and helped me form my dislike for school. The fact that I was dyslexic did not help matters. As I grew older when the fall winds began to blow, they would not trigger a rush of excited anticipation, but a cold chill of despair and gloom. I actually came to the point that I hated the fall. Just the sound of rustling leaves stirred up dark emotions and a fearful foreboding.
After trudging through school year after school year I finally graduated and went on to college. Learning was still difficult for me, but I eventually began to fill in the gaps and holes that had plagued me, and came to the point of enjoying the educational process. Today, when the cool fall winds begin to blow, I have a completely different attitude toward the seasonal changes. The coolness, the colors, and the season of gatherings warms my soul instead of chilling it.
I love the smell of fallen leaves after an afternoon rain. The colors of the changing leaves, especially those in the Carolina Mountains, and here in the beautiful state of Michigan are candy for the eyes and sweetness to my senses. The relief from the sweltering summer heat is life giving. I love the Fall!
Isn’t it strange how the things we once despised are now so cherished, and the things that we once cherished are now looked at with disdain? If you had asked me when I was six years old if I liked the fall my answer would have been a resounding “Yes!”, and yet if you had asked me that question just a few years later, I would have responded with a definite “No.” Now, if I were asked if I like the fall the countenance of my face would answer without a word being spoken.
As with the changing of the seasons the hearts and lives of people change. The things we once loved, we now despise and the things we despised are cherished. How can that be? How can people be so radically different? Check out these verses:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
II Corinthians 5:17
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.