The fall is my favorite season. I love the cooler temperatures, the changing colors, the signs all around that Creation is beginning to bed down for the winter. I love the rhythm of the fall with its regular routines, the return of “normal” schedules, and the excitement of children heading off for their first day of school.
But of all the things I love about the fall, it is the sound of geese overhead that stirs me the most. What an awesome mystery it is, that these noisy creatures know when to head off on their navigational adventures. What a wonder it is that they know where to go when they do. Wherever and whenever they go their rhythm of departure and return is a powerful and comforting mystery of God’s Creation.
Maybe it’s because I spent so much time in school – but I am much more inclined to make “resolutions” in September than I am in January. I am much more inclined to believe that I can “turn a corner,” “close a chapter,” “turn over a new leaf.” New notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, well organized book bags, a clean calendar – all speak of endless possibilities to me. The words of one “Assurance of Pardon” come to mind: “The past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new!”
Teshuvah is the Hebrew word for repentance. It means, literally, “turning.” Teshuvah denotes the genuine change of heart which impels the sinner to turn from evil and return to God. It is this kind of returning to God which is at the center of the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which our Jewish neighbors will soon be observing.
The season of return.
For our Jewish friends these days of turning towards God will be particularly holy ones. For Christians, they can mean a recommitment to personal prayer practices; a return to regular worship attendance; a rededication to the life of faith expressed in religious community and in the world.
In this season of returning to God, how are you caught up in the turning?