Among the sweetest and most poignant of childhood memories are those end-of-summer days, just before the time when we had to go back to school.
The loss seems almost tangible as one more golden day slips away. Those milestones mean fall is coming—the season when things die as a prelude to winter.
That may sound gloomy, but how you feel about summer slipping into fall, then slipping into winter is probably influenced by your outlook on life. I learned as a child that winter has an important purpose and is a blessing in its own way.
Yet I fight this idea in my heart even as some people revel in winter’s opportunities for outdoor recreation. I grew up largely on the Texas Gulf Coast, where the climate is much the same as in the prime vacation areas of Florida. I never really experienced winter until I was nine years old—the year my widowed mother enrolled at a university in the Mountain West, where her studies would change her life. The experience of living among the mountains changed my life.
The first harbinger of change came one afternoon in October as I walked home from school. Snowflakes fell from the sky, and I had worn only a shirt. I couldn’t wait to get in out of the cold.
I quickly learned that there could be fun in the snow, and I learned to deal with winter conditions. But secretly a part of me always longed for the warmth and sunlight of summer.
In a way our lives are like that. We can waste a lot of time longing for the return of the warmth—for the restoration of conditions we liked better.
But the cycles of the seasons are a fact of life, and it is also a fact that simply living on this earth sometimes brings conditions we would prefer not to face.
One of those is aging. As our summer passes, we slip into fall and our bodies start to grow old. Maybe we can’t hear and enjoy music the way we used to. Maybe we can’t see to sew or carve or draw or build as we used to. Maybe getting down on our knees is a decision to be considered carefully because we won’t be able to get up again without something to hold onto.
Eventually winter comes, and for many living things, life is over.
But one thing I learned about winter back when I was a boy is that the winter part of the seasonal cycle carries with it the promise of spring to follow. In the never-ending climate cycle on earth, new life will come.
Our hope for new life after death is not in some seasonal cycle, but in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In coming forth from the tomb, after being crucified, He gained the power also to bring all of humanity forth from the grave. We will live again. (See John 5:28-29, 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:19-22; Revelation 20:6; 1 Peter 1:3.)
An ancient American prophet named Mormon wrote that those who will accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ in their behalf can have hope “to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:41). Everyone who has ever lived on this earth, no matter when or where, will be given the opportunity by God the Father to accept salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
So, as the last days of summer slip by and I feel fall coming on, I remember that lesson I learned long ago. Winter will inevitably come, but the promise of new life is eternal.
(Please see video, “Last of the Summer Days,” at https://youtu.be/0DDp_ld0nLE)