When summer gives way to autumn, a special spirit settles around us, as we watch the summer’s cloak of green gradually transform into a multicolored masterpiece.
Often referred to as the “fall spirit,” this is a time of preparation, during which we reflect on our blessings. It’s perhaps not a coincidence that, when autumn ends, red buckets appear and bells start jingling, for we’ve reflected that we must give.
When you really think about it, the entire season of autumn is really an analogy for the process of giving itself.
Vibrant Colors Fading Is a Time for Introspection
During a drive through a forested area, autumn’s signature colors of oranges, yellows, and reds can rejuvenate anyone’s soul. But the very presence of those colors is a signal of a certain introspection. Leaves’ colors become vibrant and then fade because daylight hours are dwindling. Spending more time in darkness, trees themselves know it’s time to drop their garnishes and prepare for winter.
In a way, we mirror this introspection. Parents engage their children in the excitement of new school routines, but soon prepare them for needed focus and concentration. High school seniors savor newfound superiority, but soon buckle down to apply to college. We enter autumn on the fringes of summer’s exuberance, but soon turn inward, heightening our awareness of the needs around us.
Flowers Entering Dormancy Is a Time for Preparation
In autumn, the perennial flowers that we enjoyed in the spring and summer will soon become dormant. Although there is still life in their roots, the absence of their blooms is a “suspended animation.” It’s a natural way of preparing for winter’s colder temperatures.
We are preparing, too. We’ve turned inward to contemplate, and in doing so we’ve come to realize that we, too, must prepare. However, our preparation is not for ourselves; rather, we feel compelled to help prepare the less fortunate with the comforts and securities they need to endure a long winter. We feel compelled to give.
Leaves Falling Is a Time for Giving Back
When finally their colors have faded, the leaves fall from their branches. This is perhaps the ultimate symbol of giving back, as the leaves return to the earth, break down, and make fertile soil. In doing so, they make new growth possible in the spring.
Similarly, in the late days of autumn, charitable activity is humming. Fall online giving campaigns are launched, food banks become busier, and charities run large annual fundraisers. When you think about it, the nation’s mindset seems to be that of a tall fall tree – what can I give of myself to make better the rest?
From Making Pledges to Online Giving, Autumn Inspires Change
As summer turns to autumn and then to winter, and we adjust our clothing to follow the weather, we get a glimpse of one of the most important aspects of seasons: change. The old has gone, and the new will soon arrive. Nothing can stay the same forever, and we all must adapt with these changes as they come.
The same way the seasons change, so change the ways we give. What was once a regular part of showing support is now lost to the past. The former ways of giving, like making pledges or writing checks, are fading to make room for the new, like mobile and online giving.
If autumn teaches us anything about giving, it is this: change is an exciting and necessary part of life. As online giving and other technologies update the way we invest in the needs of our communities, we look forward to the future and what other changes lie in store.