Editorial: Fall – When the Leaves (and Our Sanity) Go Down
Once we pass the autumnal equinox in late September, fall finds a way. The leaves start to change in hue, the nighttime temps drop, and the annual cultural obsession with pumpkin spice reignites. Autumn is a yearly reminder that seasons of plenty often end in seasons of waiting. This reminder is even more prominent when amplified by the academic year.
When a semester starts, excitement about new classes and learning in general runs high. However, once midterms creep up, we wonder what we were thinking. The terrifying reality of needing to dump our brains into various papers and exams tends to clean optimism out. The wonder of long summer days gives way to the shorter, tired hours of the fall.
It was around this time last year that I reached my breaking point. I felt overwhelmed, lonely, and homesick. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for seminary after all. One night, I was lying on the floor in my room when I had what I call my “Elijah moment,” because it reminds me of God’s chat with Elijah on Mount Sinai after his showdown with the prophets of Baal.
In that moment of despair, God asked me, “What are you doing here, my child?” “You’re going to have to tell me, God,” I replied. “You brought me here – what am I doing here?” He didn’t really answer my question, but He did show up. When I didn’t know how I was going to make it through, His presence was so visceral that I couldn’t help but feel an infusion of hope in that dark night.
I believe Dallas Willard was onto something when he said that “God’s address is at the end of your rope.” It’s precisely when we think we cannot go on that God makes Himself most known. The God that brought life out of death is still turning darkness into light.
In a way, it’s so fitting that the end of the fall semester coincides with Advent. We experience the hopeful expectation surrounding Christ’s coming, even as the days get darker and students get more stressed. Just as seasonal depression knocks on the door, “God with us” is the source of our greatest joy. May we be continually reminded of and guided by Christ’s light in a dark world.