Putting Things Away
As the days get shorter and the long nights colder, a dampness and pre-frozen paralysis seems to be settling—a little more each day—into our quiet Northern communities. The leaves of the surrounding poplars and cottonwoods are yellow but not gone. The rivers have lost their midsummer clarity and vibrant aqua tones but they still make their way to the seas with no cover or constriction of ice. The geese, swans, ducks and cranes still pass by, sometimes in small groups in the twilight, showing a distracted haste as if they’ve just remembered something important.
Around my backyard, a few garden tools and a couple of hoses reflect a stillness and determined patience one didn’t feel in the busy days of an active summer. They seem little inclined to seek shelter themselves but in the dwindling hours of daylight seem to proclaim the solemn truths of entropy. They are magnanimously non-judgmental and deceptively tolerant. One might put them away today or one might wait until tomorrow. They don’t scream for attention. They stand (or lie) as sentinels might, awaiting a decision from headquarters.
Their witness will turn to judgment only when the first snow has fallen. The impending reality we’ve all seen so many times in years past will return. If the winter tires are not on the vehicle, the owner will recognize and rue his sloth and tardiness. If the hoses must be pulled—with aching fingers—from under the first white blanket and coiled in stiff unyielding circles for storage within walls, the many opportunities to perform the task with sunshine and pleasant satisfaction will pass through one’s mind in jeering remonstrance. The child’s toy not yet retrieved will wait for the spring retreat of ice and snow before being rediscovered.
How like these things are to the various political agendas which surface, grow and blend into the background. Movements arise—both those favourable to the family, free enterprise and human dignity and those which seek to displace those values with ones more suited to national collapse—and at times seem to lose their life and urgency. The whirlwind of life goes on and a noble cause (say the prolife movement) becomes, like a shovel standing at the end of a recently-dug row, a forgotten tool. It was useful once. It was important but it can become overlooked and seemingly unnoticed while the demographic winter storms approach. Only when we are reminded by the harsh realities of the storm will we see the folly that was complacence.
Likewise the movements to dehumanise the child in the womb, the aging senior, the child with Down’s; although these restless and subtle lobbies seem never to cease their frantic urgings to destroy, yet they can become hidden to our eyes as we hurry about on other urgent errands. We can be lulled into sleep and how easy it would be to let wishful thinking dominate our days. The battles in the courts, at the polls and in the papers are tiresome. Whether we have won or lost, it is easy to seek recovery and rest. But look! The workers of iniquity—like the rising beast of Nazism in the 1930s—will use your respite to rearm and will carry their deceitful message to other camps. They only seem to be at a standstill. They are seeking reinforcement in the schools and new pressure points within the bureaucracy. We must be deceived nor be lulled into inaction.
The long summer days of toil and the waning days of the harvest are passing. Enjoy your victories. Celebrate your accomplishments and eat the fruits of your labour. Just remember that this season of reflection should not be a season of retreat. The cycle of the seasons has both promise and warning. We rejoice in God’s promise that “while the earth endures, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, will not cease…” Like all plants, weeds grow best in summer but if we allow them to occupy our soil in the autumn, their pernicious roots will hold the ground through the winter and we will have to face them, strengthened and tenacious when we return to our gardens in the spring.
Finish your tasks, put things away and deal with the difficulties now. Prepare for the challenges and difficulties you know are coming and resolve to let no sudden storm catch you unaware. May all your seasons be seasons of victory and all your harvest be harvests of righteousness.