One thing above others establishes confidence in September in my memory. For years as a schoolboy cadet I was out ‘in the field’ at Singleton Army camp in the first week of September and, in memory at least, it was always hot and sunny. September brings in Spring big-time, but without the threat of imminent sweltering that we often feel in October. In our evergreen land, Spring is not as spectacular as it is in places with harsh, dead winters. But September is still a blessed relief.
Curiously, September is also the time to be on the other side of the world. This year I will be in the Holy Land with our diocesan pilgrimage. This is new territory for me, and we shall see how that goes climatically. But I take my holidays in September each year because, when I can, that is the time to be in England. For one thing, a few million tourists have just left the country at the end of their Summer breaks, so accommodation and travel are that much easier. In Septembers past I have even walked unimpeded through the tiny streets of York or Chester, places where you can only shuffle along in the crush of humanity a month earlier. And the days are fine. The Brits, of course, have very low expectations of their weather, so every year they say in wonderment ‘We’re having a real Indian Summer this year!’. Trust me, a late flourishing of Summer in September in the UK is the norm. And you can thank me for that tip when you get back!
Religiously, of course, our Spring is at the wrong time of the year. From pagan times to today, the coming of Spring was the time for great religious festivals that celebrated the renewal of life, the return of the light, the hope for abundance from the earth after the lean times of Winter. Our celebration of Easter is tied to the date of the Passover, of course, but it fitted in wonderfully well with the time of year, too, in the north of the planet. Here in the antipodes, our religious calendar places Spring firmly in the long weeks of ‘Ordinary Time’, but maybe the season itself puts us in a more positive, hopeful frame of mind. I’d like to think so because, as this edition of Aurora testifies, we are called at the moment to be positive as we look to the future and build the future. We are in the second phase of discernment of how we are called to be a ‘Christ-centred Church in Australia’, leading up to the National Plenary Council. In this diocese, we are getting ready for the first session of our own diocesan Synod before Summer really hits. It is a time to believe in renewal and new vitality. These are Spring things. Grumpiness is a Winter thing, and should be packed away with the overcoats. Yes, for us new life is always the work of the Spirit who ‘renews the face of the earth’. But seeing the actual face of the Earth change with the season is some kind of sacrament of what God also does in his people. September is good. Spring speaks of renewed blessings.