the fall is here. my favorite time of the year. i'm not a huge lover of winter, but it has its qualities. snowboarding, driving in the snow (yeah, i love it), hot chocolate, fireplaces, no light through my bedroom window at 5 am, down comforters, rest for the land and people, and such. but if biting, bitter, boring (as in drilling deep) cold were not bad enough, it bring with it a promise in its end...a promise which i hate more than anything in this world...well, anything not man-made.
mosquitos. i am not alone in my hatred for mosquitos. jeff pelletier, a good friend and one-time roommate and i were sitting in the living room once, along with another friend. we were railing against mosquitos. we were trying to figure out what possible contribution they could offer the planet. we came up with zero. birds and bugs eat mosquitos. but they eat other insects, too. eliminate mosquitos...no great ecological impact in our estimation.
jeff said "when i get to heaven, the first question i'm going to ask God is "mosquitos...what's up with that?" joe said, "yeah...and God will say "sin...what's up with that?" jeff replied "i asked you first." i doubt, or at least hope, that that isn't the initial exchange they have...but i have often thought that might be my first question, too.
ok...back to autumn. among the many, many qualities of fall is the deliverance on summer's exit strategy...no more mosquitos. i can now sit on my front porch with my guitar without pausing to swat, splat, and scratch. i can take a fresh cup of coffee out with me, put on a hoodie, and talk on the phone (which i must do because AT&T's more bars in more places doesn't include my apartment). i can walk and note the way the cool air invades my lungs, making breathing not just an invisible part of my life. and i can see a palate of color that i connect with more than all the others i love. the blue of water is engulfing. the 256 shades of grey in winter turns the color world into black and white. the green of spring is like Pleasantville in real life. but the auburns and golds and burgundys and oranges and browns of fall...they are the colors of my soul. they are majestic and regal and life and death...and they remind me.
i sat on top of vermont's tallest mountain about 14 years ago, looking across the Green Mountains (vermont is from the french words for green and mountain...verde and mont) in a first ditch effort to meet the God i'd professed to follow my whole life. and with pen in hand, i wrote of the promises of Jeremiah 29:11-13 and that even though i had no idea what it meant to seek, let alone with my whole heart, it had to be now or it would be never. and i found Him.
my friend, shane, says that truly following...truly seeking results in layers coming off of us. like an onion we come with lots of layers. some of it is just part of being human. some comes with our culture. family, friends, school, desire...they're all a part of those layers. but in seeking, the layers come off until we're left with only Him. it's probably not that easy. we add layers, often simultaneously to peeling away others. i know i sometimes like to put layers back on that i've already taken off. but as best as i can, since that day on Mt. Mansfield, i've been trying to let those dead things fall to the ground and whisk away in the wind.
every year, in september, i go back to that place. not vermont, but the internal one where i found i had never sought with my whole heart. it's not an easy place, but i still love it. i call it ruthless self-examination. it's introspection with no filters of what i'd like to be true...just what is. and i lay that truth against what i see in the life of Jesus, whom i follow, and the heart of His and my Father. no more comparisons with church ideologies, theologies, or any other "ologies". only that which was in the beginning, that was with God, and that is God. and i do that every september because, even though i try to keep in touch with this regularly, by the time a year goes by i've put layers back on. and if i don't want to be what i used to be, or to head toward my natural inclinations, i've got to pay attention to it.
if whatever change has occured in my life can be pointed to one thing, it's that prayer up on that mountain, and since, saying i have no idea how to search with my whole heart...and asking for help in that. i need to stay on top of that prayer because my heart is often divided in what it wishes to seek...fragmented would be a better word. but i long to have a whole heart, not in total, but in unity. and so i am working, sometimes hard, sometimes not, on making that statement true. i wish to seek with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to let everything else fall away.
so...fall...i am reminded every year as your air comes cool and crisp. i will seek...and He will be found...if i search with my whole heart.