Each day I take the same route into work. It often seems like I’m on autopilot. My eyes remain focused on the road, while my brain is often wandering between classes, research and home life. But as I drove home before the first short break this semester, my eyes caught a glint of bright yellow. The leaves have begun to change.
For weeks, I’ve been impatient. One of my favorite things about living in the Midwest is the change of seasons.
As October draws to an end, I’ve been groaning at the weather. Sweater and boot season should have been here weeks ago.
Despite my New Orleans upbringing with the certainty of a warm fall and an often short-sleeved Christmas, in recent years, I’ve looked forward to October and November in St. Louis. The brisk air invites fire pits, crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and the brightly hued trees.
As the yellows, oranges and reds caught my eye, I realized the monotony of my routine. Only when something unexpected happens do we see how easily life around us gets taken for granted. When I paused to contemplate the fiery hues, only then did I notice the crisp change in the air surrounding me, and then it dawned on me how quickly October had flown.
That’s the trouble with our busy lives. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the rhythm of daily routine, we forget to look around us. And when we do take a breath, we realize the slight changes that have occurred while we’ve been wrapped up in our daily grind.
In some ways, this can be a blessing in disguise. As I once again file job applications for the academic market, it’s astounding to me that in just a few short weeks, Thanksgiving will be upon us. The blessing is that I’ve not had time to fret and grow impatient with waiting to hear back.
Sometimes the beauty of carrying on life in autopilot mode is, perhaps, the almost unconscious trust that we place in God. Our lives and all of our daily cares are implicitly handed over to him. In those moments, we’re not in control. How often do we think about that?
Perhaps one of the largest reasons that people grow away from the faith is a perceived silence on God’s part. We’ve all experienced it. The Bible provides countless examples of the need for patience.
Martha and Mary wait for Jesus to heal their brother, Lazarus. John’s Gospel says that when Jesus does return, Martha goes out to meet him while Mary stayed at home. She accuses Jesus of taking too long, believing that had he been there, Lazarus would not have died.
But the lesson here is one of faith – it’s a lesson that God’s time is not ours.
Too often we press God for answers and impatiently brood over his silence. Part of the issue, perhaps, is our need for control. Letting go and trusting in God is one of the hardest lessons that we, as Catholics, must learn.
God is never silent, and he never promised that the road would be easy. What he has promised is faithfulness: he will never abandon us, despite the many times that we abandon him. And he promises to walk beside us, to help us face our difficulties, if only we place them in his hands.
While The Byrds made the third chapter of Ecclesiastes famous with the song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” it seems the message continues to fall on deaf ears. The changing of the season and the monotony of life’s rhythm serves, perhaps, a greater purpose. Our autopilot mode – the “business that God has given to mortals to be busied about” (Ecclesiastes 3:10) – has been granted to us for a purpose.
In those moments, we realize how simple it is to go about our lives, trusting that each day will begin and end like all the rest. But in whom do we trust? Not in ourselves, but in God.
Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.