We notice the end of summer several ways: swimming pools closing, school starting, gardens producing the last of summer’s produce. But then comes the official end of summer on the calendar. Fall began on September 22, and with the changing of a day – summer officially ended and fall living began. There are many endings in life: simple ones like the pool closing and more stressful endings like sending a child off to college or the military. The loss of a loved one is a particularly difficult ending that causes great pain through the impact of grief. But endings have another side – they offer a beginning in life as we enter a new life experience.
We all experience transitions in life. Some are hidden from view by the pace of life – we hardly notice they have occurred. The birth of the first child, starting a new job, children growing up and not requiring so much close supervision. We’re too busy to notice that something has happened that affects us personally and deeply. Endings that occur this way seemingly unnoticed do affect us. They cause us to have feelings of emptiness – that something has changed but we’re not sure just what has changed. When we sense emptiness in our lives because of planned or unplanned endings, we’re tempted to close down, unsure of what to do next. Unsure why we feel as we do, we worry about why we feel so unsettled. You see, it is hard to see the beginning of a new experience in our life when we’re so focused on the ending. Often we don’t even notice something has ended – all we know is we feel uncomfortable.
Religious beliefs are a source of comfort in unsettled feelings from endings. The presence of a Pastor who always seems to know the right thing to say makes us feel connected – that the times in Church are times of peace. The gift of friends and relatives affirm the worth each child of God has from their baptism. To know that God is with us in the joys and sorrows of life affirms the faith we have in God. God’s grace gives comfort to take that first step in the new beginning life is presenting us. Scripture is a timeless source of inspiration for the endings and beginnings we experience in life. We read in Jeremiah 7:23 “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” The assurance from Jeremiah become inspiring for the beginnings that come after an ending in life.
The beauty of fall is a beginning for all who enjoy the change of seasons. So its is in the beginnings that follow the endings in life. If we are experience an ending in life, may we be open to God’s grace in the new experiences that are before us as we begin the Fall season.
Roger Duffy retired from St. Brigid Church where he serves as a volunteer and adviser.