Fall is just about my favorite time of year, in heavy competition with spring. One reason I chose to live in Central Florida instead of South Florida is here, we get a taste of the change of seasons.
October brings bright, sunny days and clear, starlit nights. As dying leaves depart from trees, the puffs of cool air on which they drift invigorate body and soul.
Fall is about life and death - even life despite death.
It's children, bursting with life and the promise of the future, who don Halloween costumes and symbolically take a poke in Death's eye.
"We're not scared of you," they say to death, goblins, ghouls and all the unholy horde. "Take a hike."
And so they should say, for we triumph over death through the life, death, love and work of Christ, who told us, "Do not fear; only believe."
It's fitting that as growing-time comes to an end, fields fall fallow, and lush-green trees turn orange, scarlet and golden, October is filled with celebrations of life - Halloween, fall festivals, arts festivals, music festivals.
In November, when many trees are nothing more than bare skeletons reaching toward heaven, and days are chill, we celebrate Thanksgiving, with thanks to God for grace that carries us through times of lack, both physically and spiritually.
Even in the darkest nights, we can celebrate the joy that will come in the morning.
In November, we begin to prepare for the advent of Christ, who brings the promise of life and the assurance of God's love for each of us.
Christmas is the fulfillment of that promise, and a celebration of the mystery: God is here, and he is yet to come.
If you're in Central Florida, and you see a zaftig, middle-aged woman kicking through a pile of leaves with abandon, carving a pumpkin, or whooping as she walks her dog through the brisk morning air, it might be me. Joy falls unexpectedly.