September 22nd is the first day of Fall. The change of seasons often goes unnoticed in this day and age. But the changing of the season can be a good time for us to reflect on where we are in our lives and where we want to go spiritually. The image that comes to mind when thinking of the changing of the season from Summer to Fall is the packing away of our Summer stuff and taking out our Winter gear. For many of us it’s a time to revisit our closet and see what’s in there and do some sort of cleaning.
I live now in an area where the change of season is not as dramatic. The ritual of putting away Summer clothes or taking out Winter apparel does not apply here in the Bay Area as much. But I remember as a child growing up in Arizona where season change was very dramatic. We may not have had the harsh winters of the northeast but we had the Summers that resembled an inferno. In our part of Arizona we did have freezing Winters where the temperature often got to into the 20’s. So we did have winter clothes that definitely needed to be put away for the 100 plus temperatures of Summer. Of course the tank tops and shorts that were pretty mandatory for Summer had to be exchanged in the Fall for the coats, long pants, and sweaters. I always preferred the Winter to the Summer and even to this day I prefer it to be colder rather than hot. I run into people now days that say to me when they find out I am from Arizona—-oh it’s hot but it is a dry heat. As if the dry heat of Summer is a consolation when it is 110 degrees. My response in often, an oven is dry heat but I am not going to stick my head in there because it feels good!
The church also invites us to a change of season in our heart. While outside we are putting things away and taking out stuff that was stored, our hearts can also have a change. This change as the church teaches us is a conversion. Our hearts can be converted in many ways but specifically the church offers us the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as a way to cleanse our hearts. This is not an easy Sacrament for many of us. We have to sit down with the actions or inactions that we have not done right. Just like the closet during the change of season we have to confront the clutter and the mess and look for ways to make it better. But we have all been through a moment of reconciliation where the priest counsels us and gives us that absolution and we feel freed, a sense of relief from what was holding us down. Similar to the first time you walk into your closet after you have cleaned and donated our old clothes; there is a sense of openness and organization that makes you feel good.
This change of season consider not only cleaning out your physical closet in your home or apartment but also looking into your heart and cleansing it of the sin that ties you down.
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