I believe the seasons change at night. You can’t see a leaf change colors, so it is magical to wake up into the deep fall south. At sunrise late fall becomes an impressionist vision with pink skies on an orange and crimson palate of sugar maples painted on yellow canvas framed in walnut. Its stunning appearance allows you for a moment to forget where the earth ends and the heaven begins. Banded clouds look like darker mountains and water looks like sky. When it is that beautiful, you know the end of the year is near. It is even more beautiful when you remember the trees endured a late frost and survived a harrowing draught. It is a tender vision knowing the leaves are hanging by a thread and in another night, the asters will bow their heads and call it a winter. It is the moment when the fruits are their ripest, when we give thanks for everything and everyone, and when we reap.
The work of Magdalene, communities of women with criminal histories of drug abuse and prostitution, had its late fall moment last week at the Student Life Center at Vanderbilt University at our 10-year anniversary celebration. The night represented an ending and a beginning. When we began planning for the next ten years we said it is to walk deeper thinking locally and seeing how our actions are global. We are just beginning to create a small global network of local communities of women that share the same war stories and need to work together in community to live safe and sober lives. Next month, a woman who walked up to the front door at one of our houses from the neighborhood will graduate and is moving into her own home. Next week, two women from the Sudan who I talked about two weeks ago are flying out and beginning to form a not-for profit for other women there. Next April, six women from this community and Magdalene will travel to Rwanda to work with the sisters of Rwanda to help them start working with natural body care products to create work. After ten years of being about this work I can see that in being a part of restoring a life, we are restoring the world.
The late fall and Magdalene anniversary are beautiful and fleeting moments in time. Jesus comments at the beginning of his time preaching in the temple that as beautiful as it all is, it is nothing compared to the kingdom within us. He says that fall will pass, that he will pass, and that the temple will pass, but nothing will kill the kingdom being born in us. It is the great message for us. It is not about the end or beginning of times; it is not about our beginning or ending but the promise that in all our endings and beginnings God’s love and presence will not be lost.