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A Kingdom Among the Fall

Leaves

This weekend I had an opportunity to walk in my neighborhood for the first time in a few months. I have a heel spur, an invisible but quite real ailment than I've been recuperating from by not doing my usual exercise walks, so I'll pay a little for this indulgence, but I'm happy to pay for it, this once, as it is Fall and the leaves are falling and the air is clean and the sun is shining. I love this time of year.

There's still the tint of red, orange and yellow in the trees, some leaves clinging stubbornly to branches, sunlight filtering through and blue sky reappearing where it was once blocked by limbs full with leaves. Everything seems sharper --- the sunlight, the sky, the limbs and leaves, and even the sound of my feet striking the sidewalk and kicking up piles of fallen leaves, the shuffling sound they make interrupting a still morning. It's 9:00 and it's unusually quiet. No one is out. Only one car has passed me. Even the birds seem to be sleeping in. The trickle of water in the creek I pass over is almost deafening, whereas at other times of more activity it's hardly noticeable.

It's tempting to be melancholy at Fall, particularly late Fall. I know some people find it a depressing time, a time when everything is dying, with no Christmas cheer yet to brighten their souls. This Fall in particular portends sadness, or even fear, as not only leaves have fallen but stock markets, jobs, and, for some I know, health. And yet while I'm worth less on paper today than 60 days ago, a part of me is enjoying this slowdown, this economic fall, while praying for those who have lost jobs and are so deeply impacted by it. What I mean is that even economies need to rest sometime. We need to rest. The less frenetic pace is appealing. I went shopping for some clothing, and clerks were readily available to help me. Prices seemed reasonable, for once. A friend and I went to a popular restaurant the other day, and it was only moderately crowded, whereas it normally would have been packed. He said "This is how life ought to be," even while acknowledging that his business has. . . fallen. What he meant is that life should have wide margins, room to just live and enjoy simple things, like a meal, or a walk, without the compulsion to do more sell more be more live more.

So my response to the economic downturn, the falling all around me, is to take a walk, to try and remember while things are falling that there is a steady ground beneath me and that there is a lot of life going on under the surface, that God is at work in unseen ways to work all things for the good of those who love him. The media loves calamity and crisis, and sellers of goods profit on our fears. But as Jill Carattini said recently: "There is indeed an alternative, but it is neither safe nor easy. It involves laying down our fears to follow Christ with faith's daring; it involves opening our lives to a world that scares us, and rejecting the anxiety of a world convinced the sky is falling. The Christian alternative to a culture of fear is a kingdom of hospitality and abundance, vulnerability and generosity, love and self-sacrifice--the very kingdom Christ shaped with his living and dying, and invites us to do the same."

So resolve to enjoy every moment of this Fall, of every fall. Take a walk. Give something away when you feel like you can't. Don't succumb to fear. Walk on the steady ground of Jesus. Kick the leaves and make some noise to remind you that every leaf that falls also nourishes the soil that brings new life every Spring. Use this lull and temptation to fear as a door to what really matters, as an opportunity to reflect on God's economy and provision. Rest and work and hope in Jesus, because his Kingdom is here among the Fall.

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