I love summer – the hotter the better.  We had a pretty good one in 2023, though it seemed to go in streaks.  Personally, I could have used a few more +90 days.  If I remember correctly, it started out with a flourish – really hot around Memorial Day.  And was it July that was a little wet and cooler?  My memory tends to fade on the specifics. September certainly had some beautiful weather even after the calendar said summer was over.  However, my overall opinion was that it was a good summer.
At first I thought that I would not be ready for autumn as it arrived.  But I have to tell you, right now I am “all in”.  The change of pace is good.  I am enjoying throwing on a sweatshirt many-a day … and replacing the short-sleeved shirts in my closet with those of the long-sleeve variety.  It even feels good to return to wearing a sport coat in worship.  Next comes the change of colors … and then a couple trips to the cottage to collect those “changed colors” from the lawn.  After a multi-year hiatus, we even made it to a high school football game this year.  Autumn is a season to be cherished.
At this time, I am not yet prepared to think about winter – I am having too much fun with autumn.  Somehow, though, I hope I am still thinking about the book I am currently reading when the weather turns cold.  The book (“Endurance” by Alfred Lansing) is about a 28-man expedition to Antarctica in 1915.  Nothing we will experience can ever match the wintery conditions I am reading about.  One might even use the term “balmy” to describe our winter when compared to the storms and temperatures there described (and it is a true story!)
While I am not yet prepared to think about winter, I am sure that, come mid-December, I will be.  I can also assure you that, come the month of March, I will be eager for another change of seasons.  Perhaps this is really more about “change” than it is about “seasons” … and finding a desirable balance between “routine” and its opposite (whatever that might be).
The word seasons, as you know, does not only refer to the four times of the year that we annually revolve through.  They also can refer to stages in our lives.  Retirement certainly is a different “season” than I have ever lived in before, and, having absorbed its initial multi-month storm, I am starting to settle into a routine.  However, in two very pleasant ways (at least for this 70-year-old) it is very different from the routines of the previous seasons of my life (at least those of which I can remember).  One, the pace is slower and governed primarily by me.  And two, the routine is more easily and frequently broken.
This said, though, I must add that, just as I find autumn following summer to be a blessing, so is having a routine in each season of life.  Routines increase productivity and well-being.  They also combat depression and low self-esteem.  Again the word balance comes into play … routines are healthy as long as we do not become a slave to them.
There are three primary anchors in my current routine:  1) Tuesdays with the grand-daughters; 2) Thursdays with the grand-daughters followed by Family Time; and 3) Weekend worship.  It seems like all of the other things on the schedule are very flexible (even those routinely done) … and even the three anchors have flexibility built into them.  My, how this is different from the multiple “anchors” of responsibility in my previous “season”.  Yet, I can still say that I really enjoyed the previous seasons just as much as I am enjoying this current one … primarily because there is one theme that does not change from season to season (no matter how you are using the word) – “God is Good (All the time … or, In Every Season)”  Thus the sign that stood for years in my office at church is now displayed in the one in our basement:  “Life is Good.”
The changing of seasons will always remain for, right after Noah and family departed the ark, God said, “While earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8.22)  This comes not as a curse, but as a blessing, because we are assured that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3.1)  Knowing that our good and gracious God is the author of every season, we can echo the words of Daniel (spoken, by the way, while he was living in a forced exile), “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.  He changes time and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2.20-21)
Thus, I am just as much “all in” for the crisp mornings of my recent pre-dawn walks as I was for those extremely sweaty ones of a few months ago … even as this season of retirement is proving to have equal joys to those experienced during the working seasons – which included times like “pre-children”, “raising children”, and “empty nest.”  Sometimes I was not quite sure I was ready for the season to change, and other times I yearned for it to change before it did.  But throughout every season our God (the good and gracious One we know through Christ Jesus) has changed the time and the seasons with his ubiquitous care.
And my on-going prayer remains, singing the words written centuries ago by William Williams, “Guide me ever, great Redeemer, pilgrim through this barren land.  I am weak, but you are mighty; hold me with your powerful hand.  Bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore.  Open now the crystal fountain where the healing waters flow; let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through.  Strong deliver, shield me with your mighty arm.  When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside; death of death and hell’s destruction, land me safe on Canaan’s side.  Songs and praise, I will raise forevermore.” (LW 220)