Fall a time for new beginnings

This column was originally published as part of my “Looking Homeward” series at Herald-Dispatch.com.

A new fall is brewing. Yes, summer lingers, wilting hairdos with its hot, humid breath as it rumbles through the skies, pouring stormy showers upon us.

But fall, and all its exciting offerings, has begun its trek, easing us through the seasonal threshold with familiar sights and sounds. You see and hear them everywhere you go.

Back-to-school bargains entice kids and parents to save their way into a good school start.

Gardens are plundered for that final tomato worthy of sandwiching.

Mementoes of summer romances, new friends and family fun become enshrined in scrapbooks and photo albums, giving mute testimony that life is real and filled with adventure.

College freshmen pack everything that’s loose in the house, readying their belongings and their hopes for the new world that awaits them. Deep inside, though, there is anxiety as they step from what they know to what they know not.

Upper-classmen step back to what they know from past years, but still have anxieties. Some see commencement day coming and wonder if they are ready for life’s next chapter.

Early preparations begin for homecomings. Whatever else homecoming is, it’s a time to clean up, polishing all the new to reflect the best of the old. Campus parties give way to workdays, scrubbing aging frat houses so returning alumni won’t recognize too much of what was, let alone what is.

All these sights, sounds, and feelings surface, heralding the advent of fall — the perfect time for new beginnings.

Fall is the time God paints with multi-colors, using the whole world as his canvas. What beauty we have in store for us! The soon-to-be colored trees, the already cool, crisp mornings, the ringing of the school bells and the sound of band music rising from gridirons remind us that fall is coming, and we are alive and part of it all.

And it’s exciting — excited over what is and what will be.

Yet, I am also reminded that in this hubbub of transition, we may stumble and fall as we enter uncharted territory. Obstacles often interrupt our journeys, detouring the best of our intentions.

But as a wise teacher once said, “Aim at the stars, my child, even if you fall over a stump.”

That’s good advice and good philosophy.

God does not intend for us to plan and program our lives by looking at stumps; he wants us to look at stars. The better and best things in our world have been built by persons who aimed at stars.

Fall is a good time to dream. Rooted in the wealth of our experiences (stumps and all), we can prepare ourselves — mentally, spiritually, physically — for the opportunities of learning, growing, and serving in the months ahead.

“Not in his goals but in his transitions is man great,” Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us.

As we shift from one season to another, let this cusp of fall and its rich beauty renew our strength and spirit to meet the challenges ahead.

New beginnings await.