There are many ways of coming to the conclusion that fall is finally here other than checking the calendar. Those of us who appreciate a cold brew noticed that Leinenkugel’s “Summer Shandy” has been replaced with “Oktoberfest”, the nature-lovers have observed the paintbrush of green leaves has seemingly been slowly dipped into an invisible bucket of red or yellow paint, and Instagram/Twitter/Facebook users have seen more than their fair share of poorly-filtered pictures of people venerating their beloved pumpkin spice lattes.
Fall is officially here and the transition into a new season brings forth a mixture of emotions. Those who despise Jack Frost are not amused by fall’s trademark contributions of apple cider, doughnuts, and array of colors; they see right through fall’s attempt at distracting them from the impending doom of the winter season and shake their fists in fury. Those who have mastered the art of being grateful in each present moment do not focus their attention on the pros and cons of the past or the future seasons but are trying to live in the present circumstances with great optimism and appreciation. I tend to naturally adhere more to the first view. As I strive to take on the mentality offered by the latter approach in order to stay sane in these upcoming months, I also find comfort in the fact that there will be no pumpkin spice lattes in Heaven.
We’re all familiar with the age-old analogy regarding the rhythm of the seasons. There’s something about the cycle of the four seasons that speaks to the cycle of our lives and the life of all that grows from the earth. Summertime tends to be associated with fruitfulness and life, fall is associated with the process of change (most notably towards death) and last call for harvesting, winter is associated with death, and spring is associated with renewed life.
We see hints of this relationship between the seasons and the stages of life in Scripture when we read, for instance, Song of Songs 2:10-13,
“Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come…the fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.”
We find something similar in Luke 21:29-30,
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near…”
Fall/winter is a time of dying and death and the following spring/summer is a time for rebirth and fruitfulness.
Now consider these two incredibly similar visions of Heaven brought forth first by the prophet Ezekiel and then from the Book of Revelation:
“Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he made me sit. Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides. He said to me… ‘Along both banks of the river fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
“Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.”
Will there literally be trees in Heaven that will appear exactly as has just been described? Possibly- but that’s not my takeaway from these passages. My takeaway is that in Heaven we will no longer experience death or the process of dying/intense suffering. That’s something we will only experience on earth and in purgatory. The idea that “their leaves shall not fade” and that “every month they shall bear fresh fruit” brings to mind another passage from Revelation which speaks of our hope in everlasting life:
“Then I saw a new heavens and a new earth…I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.’ The one who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.'”
Though this life is filled literally with the repeated cycle of all four seasons and we experience spiritually/emotionally what tends to be associated with each season at various times in our life, the whole of our earthly lives can be described as a journey from the springtime of our youth to the wintertime of our death. Heaven is a time of sharing for all eternity in the glory of Christ’s resurrection; the rebirth of springtime and the fruitfulness of summertime.
In Heaven, therefore, there will be no death, there will be no fall, and thus there will be no pumpkin spice lattes.