“Everybody wants to be transformed but nobody wants to change,” quipped Frederica Matthewes-Green several years ago. Another way to say this is “I want change without change.” As the leaves are beginning to shift colors here at this old house, it is interesting to reflect on what the word “change” really means. The online etymological dictionary gives us this:

change (v.)
early 13c., “to substitute one for another; to make (something) other than what it was” (transitive); from late 13c. as “to become different” (intransitive), from Old French changier “to change, alter; exchange, switch,” from Late Latin cambiare “to barter, exchange,” from Latin cambire “to exchange, barter,” of Celtic origin, from PIE root *kemb- “to bend, crook” (with a sense evolution perhaps from “to turn” to “to change,” to “to barter”); cognate with Old Irish camm “crooked, curved;” Middle Irish cimb “tribute,” cimbid “prisoner;” see cant (n.2). Meaning “to take off clothes and put on other ones” is from late 15c. Related: Changed; changing. To change (one’s) mind is from 1610s.

I find the idea of changing clothes the most useful when thinking about “change means changing.” For example, it is very uncomfortable to put my pajamas on over my clothes from the day. I must take off one to put on the other. That is not a value statement about either the pajamas or the clothes of the day. It simply means that we cannot wear both functionally or comfortably.

And so it is in life. We must leave one house, one job, one church or school to go to another one. We cannot be in two places at once. We cannot have it all. We cannot change without movement away from one thing and toward another.

There is excitement in this idea and grief as well. We can and must “make (something) other than what it was.” The beauty of living in a place with distinct seasons is that we see Nature do this on a regular basis. We transition out of summer and into fall which leads into winter which cycles back to spring which eventually becomes summer again. We can learn a lot from Nature. I am sure there are leaves that do not want to fall off their branches. I am sure the trees do not like the idea of standing naked against the winter sky. Yet, without the rhythms of growth and dormancy, trees and other plants would grow continuously to the point of being out-of-control in height and density. The goal is to embrace each season as it comes and learn the gifts of each of those seasons.Image result for free photo of a tree in four seasons

As we continue to stand in the liminal space I referred to last time, we take comfort in the cycles of Nature. Autumn has begun; the change of seasons is upon us. And that is not a bad thing.