While I will immediately claim many of my “basic white girl tendencies”, I have never been one to freak out about Fall, at least as much as many of my friends. I remember my freshman year in college feeling like everyone around me was truly worshipping Fall, collecting leaves, putting pumpkin in every possible thing you could dream of, and wearing scarves while it would still reach 80 degrees each afternoon in Northwest Georgia.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many things I love about Fall. My favorite festival my sweet little town hosts takes place on a brisk weekend in October full of kettle corn, homemade fudge, beautiful pottery, jewelry, and precious familiar faces. Each time I pull into the gravel parking lot and open my door to smell the kettle corn and hear the local music being played my heart jumps like I’m riding the ferry across the lake into Magic Kingdom. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Each Thanksgiving I wake up, make my first cup of coffee and sit to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and typically cry due to just how much I love that day.
But I would never be the one in line the moment Starbucks opens on September 1 to get my first pumpkin spice latte.
Yet, this year the magic of Fall hit me.
I am a summer girl. I love the beach, sandals, pineapple La Croix, watermelon, and just how much simpler and lighter all of life feels. I love that anytime spent outside is typically spent on the water and I love that vacation is so encouraged.
September to me is usually a reminder the school year has fully set in and honestly since I was 10 been the mark of volleyball season being in full swing. Somehow though, on labor day I found myself at Target (praise hands!) purchasing a new mustard cardigan, grey nail polish, and pieces to make my Fall table arrangement (I have a new fascination with my table being decorated appropriately for each season). I bought a small pumpkin from the dollar section, a mustard felt leaf from the home section, and searched all around for whatever Fall pieces I could find. I even considered buying a PSL from the Starbucks at the front of the store when I left. WHO AM I?
I remember how much Fall really felt like a punch in the gut last year. It already felt like death was at the forefront of my mind, having just lost my Dad less than 6 months before September. Then, death was everywhere. So colorfully proclaiming on each and every limb of every tree on the 3 mile empty road I take to my office every morning, shouting how deeply death takes effect. How intricately. How it changes everything. I just couldn’t celebrate it.
So I came home following my Target trip and put out my Fall decorations, even lighting a cinnamon candle. But it hit again. The death amidst it all. No matter how much I loved the decorations on my table, it didn’t cover up the mess in the living room. The wedding shower invitations I haven’t RSVPd to, the crumbs on the kitchen counter, the leftovers that need to be thrown out, the laundry that needs to be done. Then, brokenness continued to set in throughout the week in the lives of my people. How deeply death takes effect. How intricately.
So last night I found myself determined to not let myself sit down unless I deep cleaned the entire house. I was going absolutely insane to see death and darkness and brokenness be anywhere else in my life. I was tired of everything feeling out of control. If you know me well, you know how deep my deep cleaning can go. And it did.
I began wiping off counters and putting dishes in the dish washer and soon found myself organizing every piece of Tupperware we have and making sure it had an appropriate lid, folding every blanket we own, and eventually take each and every cushion of our outdoor furniture on our screened in porch and giving it a bath.
I mean a deep bath. When I told one of my best friends about this, she laughed until she cried. And now that I’m sharing this, I’m sure so many of you will have ways I could have done this so much better, but it was 11:00pm and I was determined to get it done. I filled my bath tub with water and laundry detergent, took each cushion one at a time and submerged it into the soapy water. I pressed and pressed for it to absorb every bit of soap it could. I held it against the wall and let the shower rinse it, applying more pressure to let the soap out. Then, I drained the cushion, which was very heavy at this point, as best as I could.
Somewhere along the way in this process, I was absolutely soaked, along with my bathroom floor, and pressing that cushion against the wall to get all the soap out became deeply spiritual. I found myself working some anger out in that process that came from deep deep inside that I couldn’t even name. But I leaned into it. Eventually I was soaked and sweating with a disgusting bath tub, but let me assure you these cushions are CLEAN.
Clean. Free of the death it had previously been filled with.
Death I know your sting. I know your intricacy and I know your defeat.
And I needed to feel that defeat. To feel all of the anger in my body well up inside of me and get these cushions as clean as they every could be.
I hate death.
And last Fall as each leaf screamed to me of death’s fury I just felt powerless to it. I felt like it won. Read more about last fall for me here.
But last night I needed to win. And I am sitting in my pristine house today, knowing in about 2 hours it won’t be perfect and I’m okay with that. But celebrating that Fall is beautiful, that I love a cinnamon dulce latte, and that
DEATH HAS LOST ITS STING.
That as each little leaf so beautifully puts its innermost glory on display then falls to its death, as each tree lays barren over the winter, draped and dusted in snow, creation knows it hasn’t lost. It isn’t defeated. It is not scared to hope that new growth and new life will come when the first bird of Spring sings its song.