Several years ago, as I sat on my front porch just enjoying the beauty of autumn, gazing fondly at a huge tree in my neighbors yard, this poem just started running through my soul. Today, as I thought about the fact that it’s the first day of autumn, 2019, I decided to re-post that poem so that all my new readers can enjoy it as well. After things get so far back in the archives, hardly anyone ever finds them. So I hope you enjoy this little reminiscence with me.
Leaf by tender leaf,
I watch this stately monarch
Dressing up for fall.
Gold, russet, yellow,
And brilliant red — her choices,
For she loves them all.
Hour by passing hour
The change begins subdued – but
Then bursts into flame.
I revel in the site.
My heart belongs to Autumn.
It’s joy calls my name.
The troubles that have pressed
Throughout the year now ending,
Though they’re present still,
Are restrained by the power
Of Autumn’s golden glory
To subdue all ill.
My heart belongs to Autumn.
Indeed, it always will.
Well, I’ve promised a slide show of my Smoky Mountain trip photos, but I don’t have all of them ready yet. But in the meantime, I walked out my front door a couple days ago, and all this beauty just exploded right before my eyes. I had to capture it, and now I’m sharing it with you in a slide show from closer to home.
In the early morning of October 23 — just 11 days from today — thousands of swallows will lift off the grounds of the San Juan Capistrano mission, circle the mission once, and begin their pre-scheduled 7500-mile flight back to their home city of Goya, Argentina. They will have spent 7 months at the mission, enjoying the warm climate and excellent food — and offering their share of the work to keep the eco-system in its proper balance — particularly by destroying about a billion insects. But it will be time to go home, and those swallows will not fail to leave at exactly the appointed moment.
Their visit to the centuries-old California mission began in Goya at dawn on February 18 — as it has every February 18 for at least the past 200 years. They arrived at Capistrano on March 19 — as they have for at least 200 years — and, yes, all the mission bells did ring, just as Leon Rene’s 1940’s song says. There is a great celebration at the mission every year, and thousands of people turn out to welcome the birds to their summer home. All events are planned well ahead of time because there is absolutely no doubt that these lovely swallows will be right on time.
Argentinian magazine correspondentEnrique Bermudez, who writes for Para Todos Magazine,has made a thorough study of the swallows. He says they fly most of their 7500 mile journey at an altitude of 6600 feet and fly at a speed of 18 miles per hour. His research shows that swallows are masters at following a flight plan that takes advantage of every favorable wind. And somehow, in spite of all kinds of unpredictable natural events, they arrive exactly at the appointed time on March 19, year after year after year. How awe inspiring is that?
Well, it must be pretty inspiring for the majority of people because the event has been immortalized in word and song for decades now. Unfortunately most people any distance away cannot be present to celebrate the event, but all of us have the privilege of witnessing a similar miracle right in our own back yards if we care to take notice. We have scores of “closer-to-home” birds that migrate north and south at exactly the right time every year — returning at the same appointed time when the seasons change. In my neck of the woods, the most prominent migratory birds are the geese, and their v-shaped flight patters make designs across our skies for several weeks each fall as they follow their God-given homing devices to their places of winter refuge.
And so it is in every little burg and hamlet across the planet. Then when spring pops out from under winter’s blanket, ducks, geese, and birds of various sorts find themselves on the move again, and without fail, all the members of each species of bird know exactly where they are going. Just like the Capistrano swallows, they all have this built-in guidance system that we call “instinct.” It’s an internal radar, given to them by their Creator, that doesn’t fail to take them exactly where they need to go: south in the winter, north in the summer, and even to the highest rafters of the crumbling mission at San Juan Capistrano.
But what about us? People. Do we have our built-in homing device turned on? It is keeping us focused on our perfect destination? No matter what the season in our lives, our perfect place of safety and fulfillment is always the same place: The Almighty, Eternal, Living God.
What time is it in your life? Is it time to migrate to a new place in your spiritual walk? Do you find yourself feeling the need to live on a higher plane? Or is it getting a little dark and cold where you are now, causing you to long for more warmth and light and nourishment?
Well, the Word of God makes it clear that we each have a built-in homing device with its own internal radar. That Word tells us that we do not have to “anxiously look about us,” trying to find our path. (Isaiah 41:10). All we have to do is set our hearts on the one who created that homing device. (Prov. 3:6). And even more directly, we are told that we will find Him through Jesus Christ, who is “the way” into the heart of that Creator. (John 14:6).
Do you have your radar zeroed in on the almighty God of the universe? If so, you have a fantastic journey ahead of you. If not, maybe this changing season is a good time to make an adjustment.