Bright blue skies and 70 degrees, the leaves continue dropping from the trees and we enjoy unseasonably delightful weather. But like it or not, ready or not, change will inevitably come. Spindly skeletons of bark, brown lawns, and stark, stripped fields replace the colors of spring and summer. Not yet monochromatic like winter, but preparing, the world spins and tilts leaving shorter days and longer nights. It’s the trees that always hit me. In all their nakedness, standing bare for the next several months while the life-giving sap congeals in their veins (do trees have veins?). That’s a nightmare for a human isn’t it? To be stripped bare and exposed, left so cold that your blood gets thick? Every fall the trees live out our fears. Well, at least mine.
I like to think I’m an authentic person. What you see is what you get. But we all hide to some extent don’t we? Even if we’re true to who we are, we can hide behind that on days when that’s not our reality. Did that make sense? It made sense in my mind. It’s like, I really am a normal (whatever that means) healthy person who can laugh and joke and be serious and care for others and live. But some days I don’t feel like it; I feel hurt and sad or mad or simply down yet I still act like that original “happy” person. Out of expectations? Habit? Because it’s easier? Because no one will ask questions? No matter how authentic and “real” we are before people, we still hold back. Our thoughts are still our own and even the most indiscriminating person doesn’t share every thought. Then there’s our pasts, our hurts, our temptations, our questions and dark places that again, usually no one sees. We can function each day-work, love, care, live-without our inner workings ever surfacing. But before God, I know I’m forever stripped bare. There’s no hiding behind leaves or masking bad moods or pretending depression doesn’t exist or ignoring hard questions and harder realities, doing away with everything in my mind. It’s full exposure all the time. Everything laid bare all the time. And regardless of what I look like and feel like when I’m stripped before Him, I know He loves me. Because I don’t always feel it and can’t empirically prove it, I take His love on faith.
And what about you? Whether you believe in Him or not, you can’t hide. Not from Him, at least. Do you know that? He sees you. Every part of you. You are utterly exposed whether you admit it or not. And He loves you. Is that comforting? Intimidating? Maddening? It’s been all those things to me. Yet each October I’m reminded, as I watch the trees undress, that despite how I feel about Him, His love is always the same for me…always the same.
October by U2
And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care?
And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But You go