Labor Day is over and fall is upon us. Technically, fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere on September 22 at 10:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time. (The Southern Hemisphere enters spring when we enter fall.) But where I live in Dallas, Texas, it feels like fall is already here. School is back in session; football has begun. The season has changed.
Seasons were God’s invention. On the fourth day of creation he said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). Why did our Creator make seasons?
One reason has to do with our climate. Our seasons are the result of our planet’s tilt—when your part of the world tilts toward the sun, you get spring and summer; when it tilts away, you get fall and winter. God didn’t have to do things this way—he could have created our planet with no tilt and thus no seasons. But then regions further from the equator would receive much less sunlight and thus be much less inhabitable. God loves diversity, and wanted us to experience our world from the far north to the far south.
A second reason for our seasons is spiritual. In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis imagines a correspondence between a chief demonic tempter named Screwtape and his apprentice. At one point, Screwtape comments on “the horror of the Same Old Thing.” According to him, this is “one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship.”
Screwtape explains: “The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy [Screwtape’s name for God] . . . has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm.”
As a result, “He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme.” Lewis is right: I am glad it’s fall, but I’m also glad it’s not always fall. The beauty of each season demonstrates the beauty of the One who created all seasons.
Now consider this observation from St. Augustine: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” Which is the greater miracle: that the seasons change, or that you have the intellectual and spiritual capacity to enjoy them as they change?