In the fall of 1982, I was in grad school in Texas. Nancy and I had gotten engaged in July, and I left for school in August. We had only started dating in early July and our first date was after we had decided to get married on a walk in late June, so we were both very in love and still learning about each other. At a distance.
One day, I got an envelope with leaves. In the old days, some people would take two pieces of wax paper and put leaves between them and press gently with a warm iron. It preserved the color and stabilized the crumbling process.
Nancy sent me some leaves to remind me of northern fall and to remind me of her. If I remember correctly these 40 years later, she wondered if I would think it was silly. What I remember is keeping those leaves for a few years. They were about love.
I don’t think Paul knew anything about wax paper when he was talking to people in Timothy’s hometown about seasons. People were trying to worship Barnabas and Paul for healing someone and Paul was talking quickly to point them to God. On the fly, Paul said that God gave the seasons and crops and delight to remind people of God. God allows nations independence, leaves them to follow their own plans rather than his, Paul says.
But there are moments when the stomach is fuller than it was, when the conversation around the table is comfortable and refreshing, when the tension that we always live with is set aside for a bit. And in those moments, we may be grateful beyond ourselves. And in those moments, we may say “I don’t deserve this.”
And we think about the one who sent the leaves.