The God of November

It’s nearly here. I always feel a little apprehensive on the 31st of October. Nope, it’s not the children dressed as demons and corpses, begging confectionaries as they trouble my threshold. Neither is it the young adults who celebrate the ancient Celtic festival with booze and stimulants, admiring each other’s makeup. It’s November-eve. For me, it’s the worst month of the year. I’ve come to dread it. For the past four years, the month has made me feel particularly melancholic and morose. I can’t claim it to be depression- this is a medical condition I am not qualified to diagnose and whose real sufferers may roll their eyes at my feeble ailment. I’m not sure why I feel it, but perhaps it’s a combination of several factors:

  • The lovely aspects of autumn- the golden leaves floating down to earth beneath sunny skies, the bright berries and delicious fruit- all these are gone. The berries have been turned into bird muck, while those leaves have become a soggy mush on the pavements. The lovely trees resemble denuded skeletons, stark silhouettes on a sullen background.
  • The novelty of a new term at work has worn off. Neat and tidy exercise books become dog-eared and tatty. Children become obstructive and teachers snappy in equal measure. In November, colleagues are heard saying: “I’m ready for a break”, even though they’ve just had one.
  • Christmas approaches. So much to do, people to see, things to plan. The expense, the time, the crowded shops. The expectation that we all be full of joy and play happy families. All this has still to come and it’s only a month away.
  • The weather. The evenings are black and the days iron-grey; horizontal rain and cold winds lash those who venture out. We must leave behind our warm beds and return home to dark houses after a day’s toil. Furthermore, this dark month only ever gets darker. At least December has fairy lights and the solstice to commend it.

If you were looking for some tragic anniversary or significant reason for my dread, you’d be disappointed. The list above is fairly hum-drum and common-place. But I face this month with fear. It’s an irrational fear, one I cannot explain. Maybe you are reading this and can relate to me. Sometimes the fear of a thing is worse than the thing itself. And let me share something else. I do not face it alone:

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,

And He who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name;

You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the Lord your God

-Isaiah 43

 

He doesn’t offer to stamp out the fire; neither does He evaporate the waters, though He’s powerful enough. And He won’t chop November out of the calendar, nor cause the sun to shine unnaturally bright nor order the winds to warm my cockles. So what is He promising?

  • To be with us
  • To keep us
  • To protect us

Bring it on, November. With my God, I’m ready for you.