November is a dynamic month with powerful images that can (and should) inspire and challenge us to deeper faith and more intimate communion with God. All around us the leaves are changing and beginning to fall. A few chilly days make summer a distant memory and we look ahead to holidays, hot cocoa, and winter coats. Daylight saving time ends and long evenings await us. The football season is in full swing and television promises skiing, hockey and figure skating. Veterans are honored. The month begins with a celebration of the saints, the commemoration of the holy souls, and ends with a national day of Thanksgiving. This is a lot of activity to pack into 30 days!
What can November teach us? The first stark reality is that life is short. The reality of the saints and the holy souls is, like it or not, our destiny. The dying of the leaves, the dying of the year, the dying of the daylight all remind us that life will come to a close and that we can never forget that eternity is just around the comer. Instead of prompting an autumnal depression, it is astounding that so much beauty accompanies the dying all around us! The leaves are beautiful. The crisp air makes us feel alive and eager to accomplish things. God surrounds us with beauty at every stage of life. Beauty is a reminder of His presence all around us. If we’re smart, we’ll take the seasonal cue seriously and put our priorities in order. Are we living for this life only or in anticipation of eternal life?
It’s also amazing that we choose this time of year for Thanksgiving Day. Aren’t we more thankful in the Spring when warm weather and tulip bulbs are so much in evidence? What about Summer – shouldn’t we be most thankful when we’re on vacation? Instead, as a nation, we choose to set aside a day to thank Almighty God at the conclusion of the harvest, at the crowning of the year. Just when things begin to get cold and dark, then we express our national gratitude most explicitly.
The simple fact is that every time and season is a time to take eternity seriously. Every time and season is a time for giving thanks to God. As mere mortals we need calendars, times, holidays and seasons to remind us of important truths. God, however, is eternal. Wreaths are so important during Advent and Christmas because they are symbols of the Blessed Trinity. God, like the circular wreath, has no beginning and no end. He is eternal. Wreaths are made of evergreens to show that God in undying. God’s light never dims and His warmth never goes away.
To live one’s life in Christ Jesus is a wonderful way to live. In fact, only in Jesus are we really alive. He gives us Himself in Holy Communion so that we have the nourishment we need to withstand the journey of life. Christ’s beautiful teachings reassure us of His presence even when we feel cold or in the dark. Every dying is simply the building material for new, resurrected life. Enjoy this November and learn the lessons of the month that give greater meaning to the entire year.