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IMG_7493For those of you who read here regularly or know me personally, you know that fall is my favorite season.  Though I know many people love the flowers and the vibrancy of greens in spring, I find the turning of leaves in fall much more beautiful.  There is something poignantly graceful about a tree making a vibrant show of color before losing everything and going bare for the winter.  Whether it’s an entire tree that is vividly yellow, orange, or red, or whether it’s stumbling across a particularly beautiful fallen leaf, I find my breath being taken away time and again in the fall.

Fall just finally began to show in force this past week where I live.  The colors could not have come sooner.  In a time filled with anger, hatred, and violence, I have found myself struggling to see beauty around me.  Instead of the vibrant red of love, I have seen the ugly color of abuse and subjugation.  Instead of flaming orange of peace, I have seen the frightening colors of war and gun violence.  Instead of the brilliant yellow of respect and dignity, I have seen demoralizing color of sexism and racism.  In such times, I have longed to stumble on a stray leaf of hope.

As my mind has reeled with yet another mass shooting in Texas, more women coming forward to protest assault and harassment, and legislation that seems to value personal gain over the relief of the suffering of the poor, I have been wondering if fall would come at all.  And then I realized, perhaps the leaves of hope I have been looking for are everyday people who come into my path and show me vibrant signs of hope.  I see hope in a neighboring pastor who told me about the prayer tent he set up in a nearby neighborhood after a shooting that occurred the night before.  Children were overjoyed to see his presence as they got off the school bus the next day.  I see hope in the yoga teacher who, sensing a need in our community, approached our church to see if we could provide space for a sliding-fee yoga class for people of all income levels.  I see hope in children who teach me a profound sense of empathy instead of the reverse.

This week, I invite you to take a look around you in God’s creation to see the signs of hope and love that God is giving you to revive your spirit.  And I also invite you to take a look around you at the people who are offering you signs of hope and love this week – even in the small gestures of kindness, generosity, and love.  I suspect you will be overwhelmed by the beauty you see, and hopefully inspired to unfurl your own beautiful colors of love, peace, respect, and dignity.