This year hasn’t been the best for maintaining optimal emotional wellness. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes about how unusually terrifying the year 2020 has been. I believe we’re past the danger of murder hornets; but, exhausting the Greek alphabet with naming future tropical storms and hurricanes is still a real possibility. (If you’re not aware, we used up the list of names selected by the National Weather Service and are now naming storms using the Greek alphabet.) Tropical Storm Beta was the most recent to make landfall (as of September 23rd). In fact, almost the entire Atlantic and Gulf coasts have been under a hurricane or tropical storm warning at some point this year.

I won’t remind you of the other serious, heartbreaking tragedies and injustices we’ve faced this year. We all know. We’re reeling. We’re trying to hold on and keep up hope.

I’ll confess—I signed up to write this post while I was still on a postpartum high-note after having a precious, snuggly newborn and 3 months of maternity leave. Right now, I am not the picture of emotional health. I have practices I’m trying to stick to—meditation, hydration, sleep, etc., but it’s just been a sad time.

One thing that brought a moment of reprieve recently was a welcome gust of cool weather right along with the change of seasons. Here in North Carolina, the autumnal equinox does not always mean cooler weather. In fact, we joke about “faux fall,” where it cools down a bit and then temperatures blast back up to the 90s until mid-October. But, this year, we have had an extended period of cool weather—sweater weather, put out your “It’s Fall, Y’all” signs weather!

With the new season and refreshingly cool air has come a reflection on how things change. The challenges we face have been persistent, some lasting for months longer than expected (the pandemic), others lasting for centuries longer than expected (racial injustice). It’s tempting to lose hope that things will ever change. And that’s why I think, with belief in a higher power, that the seasons come for a reason. We humans have to be reminded that things can and will change. Just as the trees will turn and drop their leaves, the scales of justice will also see-saw and balance. Just as the snow will surely fall (in some lucky areas of the United States), COVID-19 will eventually be a virus that we can manage as part of daily life (not magically or in a couple weeks, but eventually with careful science and social measures).

The seasons remind us to hope—to feel trust, expectation, or possibility. And if we have hope, then maybe we can face some of life’s challenges a little better. We can let go of some of the stressors and negative feelings we’ve harbored over these past challenging months. With hope, we can begin to imagine and dream again. We can extend love and forgiveness. We can create beauty and community.

Happy fall, y’all.