With the flip of the calendar page, August and her distinct characteristics have arrived.
August is the most grown-up of the summer months. She has left behind the frivolity of May flowers and the giddiness of June’s shenanigans. The festivity of July now fades into the last push before harvest. In August the full bounty of harvest is not yet known, but hints of it are beginning to show promise. There is still much tending and serious growth necessary, but she is no longer the tender new plants of early summer. The story of the year is now told in these plants…a year of battering disease and drought shows on their chewed, withered leaves, while a year of sufficient rain, sun, and nutrients will be evidenced by blooms of victory and hearty fruit. Regardless of past challenges, the plants of August are often miraculously strong and resilient to the dangers that threatened her early days, but she by no means can release her vigilance, for the harvest is now close. The firstfruits are just now arriving, fresh and tantalizing, but not in the great numbers that will be in a few weeks.
The foggy mornings of August ease the earth into cooler nights, portending the frost that is still weeks away. Her haze coats the sky, obscuring the brilliant blue that will return with September. Her days are given to more foggy uncertainty, her temperatures to wilder extremes. August is watchful, quiet, serious. She lets the rest of the earth go on living while she focuses on being ready for when the time is right and the fruit is ripe. She is the threshold between hanging onto the brief freedom of summer and looking ahead to the accomplishments of autumn. She is the page turn from summer’s chaos to fall’s routines. August is almost but not quite.
More than just a distinct portion of the New England seasons, August places can appear in our seasons of life as well. August places bring with them a kind of tension, a hanging in the balance, the held-breath of transitions. Much has passed before but many questions remain. Will the hard work pay off? Will the harvest succeed? Will there be reasons for rejoicing? We appreciate the present beauty and the encouragement of all we can now see, but still we wait and wonder.
In many ways, we live always in an August place. We are always waiting, watching, rejoicing in the hints of victory we see, battle-weary yet still fighting for the harvest. Vigilance and perseverance are our watchwords in this life; victory is tantalizingly near but yet to be grasped. It is a hopeful striving.
In the book of Philippians the apostle Paul exhibits this kind of living as he writes to his dear friends from prison. He has one goal – to know Jesus; and one purpose – to advance the Gospel. He lives in the in-between August tension of wanting to see his Savior face-to-face and wanting to keep on with the fruitful work that will benefit others (1:21-26). So he presses on, focused on these objectives, knowing that someday, it will all be worth it.
And so we too press on through our August places, believing that our diligence will be rewarded, not only in this life, but also in the one to come.
Not that I have already reached the goal or am fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-13
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