In those days, over and against how much I loved the summer was precisely how much I eschewed the fall. After all, it represented a return to the dreaded institution known as grade school.
But as time passed, I began to look at things differently. When one grows up on a farm, visons of summertime spent in luxury around the pool and/or at the beach quickly give way to time spent in drudgery in the garden and/or out in the fields. Simply put, while my friends all basked in the warmth of the sun, I alone sweated in its oppressive heat from dusk till dawn!
Not surprisingly, I soon learned to long for the fall of the year. Sitting in a classroom, as tedious and boring as it might be, was, hands down, an improvement over hoeing gardens, picking beans, shucking corn, bailing and stacking hay, painting fences, cutting grass, and bush-hogging pastures!
Thus it was that I began to see the fall of the year as a time, not so much to be dreaded as to be anticipated. For when it unfolded, it represented the end of a full summer’s labor. Far more importantly, it represented new beginnings. I discovered that returning to school was not meant to be merely a repeat of the previous year, but rather a going on to the next grade.
As the years passed, I found this true not only of grade school, but also of middle school, high school, college, seminary, and eventually, even graduate school. In short, I grew fond of fall because it was always the time of new beginnings. That is to say that it was not just about the next grade, but also about the next level, the next challenge, and by implication, the next great adventure!
As I write these words, it is now the 9th day of August, 2023. While it is not yet September, it is nonetheless the concluding month of summer. Fall is clearly on the horizon. It is also the week in which all of my seven grandsons have now entered a new stage of life.
The eldest of these started the first grade this year. Behind him, grandson number two started kindergarten. Beyond this, the third and fourth grandsons began pre-k. The fifth started two-day-a-week preschool for the first time. And the sixth and seventh each found themselves in the awkward position of being alone at home for the first time without an older brother constantly attempting to micro-manage their lives!
And there you have it! For each and every one, fall has brought a new challenge. For none of them will this be easy. There will be colors and shapes and letters and numbers and a whole host of other such intimidating things to learn and conquer. But they will surely figure them all out. I eventually did.
And after these things, they will go on to even greater challenges which they will also figure out - just as I also once did. Beyond this, I can only hope that their experiences in their childhood years will be followed by similar ones in their adolescent years. And that these will then one day be followed by similar ones in their adult years.
And what I hope for them, I hope for myself. Who says that once one concludes his or her formal education, fall should cease to be a time of new beginnings?! For this reason, I have set myself a goal in the time I have left in life to capitalize upon the fall of each new year to begin some new journey, to commence some new undertaking, and/or to start some grand new venture in life.
These things matter to me. I never need to reach the point that I stop moving forward, being productive, and accomplishing in life. But these things matter as well to my seven grandsons. While they may not do so now, the day will surely come when they will look to me and my life to ascertain as to whether or not my example was exemplary.
Above all, these things matter to the Lord. It was He Who created me, He Who endowed me, He Who gifted me, and He Who rightfully has expectations of me! It is also to Him that I must give an account of how I spent my time in this world, as well as what all I did with the gifts He entrusted to me.
Echoing the words of Jesus in the Gospels regarding the Parable of the Talents, the Apostle Paul reminds us (in his New Testament Letter to the Romans, chapter 14, verse 12) that “…each of us will one day give a personal account to God.”
For my part, I hope to keep on living and to keep on learning and to keep on growing and to keep on achieving and to keep on accomplishing all that the Lord intends for me.
In other words, as long as I live, I hope to always be a “fall guy”!