As I sit at my desk in my study in the Manse, I look out of the window at a beautiful tree which has been slowly turning colour as autumn progresses. It lifts my spirits every day when I look out on it.
I love autumn and especially these bright, crisp sunny autumn days when the light has a magical quality and the air is clear. When the sun is low in the sky it highlights buildings and hills in stunning ways (and I reckon that Edinburgh is one of the very best places to appreciate this!)
I have very vivid memories from back in the mid 70s of starting the University session in October and these early wonderful days of each new session (just to be clear, I loved my time at University!)
On bright, crisp autumnal mornings I would walk through Kelvingrove Park admiring the colours of the trees, praising God and joyfully anticipating the forthcoming Systematic Theology lecture!
Of course, all that was forty years ago… say it quietly! Forty years…
The other day I rediscovered the Bible which had been presented to me at my licensing in Glasgow Cathedral in 1980, 36 years ago. Extraordinary. Indeed, the day that this bible was rediscovered was the same day on which I attended a conference organised for Ministers to tell us about retirement, pension, Housing and Loan fund etc.
I guess it is now autumn for me too!
I may have to work a little at loving the autumn of life as much as I love the season of the year.
And yet there is something attractively mellow about knowing that one’s most energetic and possibly productive work lies behind; a quiet satisfaction that – for all the mistakes and failures – there has been a lot of good work done, and it is now time to slow down just a little and adopt different rhythms. Time to shift down a gear.
And that is fine… in theory!
I have not found it quite so easy to accept in practice.
But right now, as I look out at that tree I think I may not be too far away.
As ‘The Preacher / Philosopher’ said ‘For everything there is a season…’ (Ecclesiastes 3: 1).