I love the fall. It is the season of my soul, when the slanting sun makes rich patterns of shadow in our yard, and in me.
I wake these mornings to see the leaves falling. Why is it that autumn touches me so deeply? It may be in part nostalgia for the color and scents I remember from my youth. Walking home from football practice through the crisp air, under a tunnel made of a canopy of blazing maples. Like an impressionistic painter, autumn turned our tree-lined street, into a place of glory.
In some deep archetypal way the slanting autumn sun and shadows, rich and melting, slide sideways into the hollows of my soul, the part that feels both beauty and pain so deeply – not one without the other, but both together, as fullness and loss, death and hope – walking side by side.
The writer Parker Palmer describes autumn as a season both of exhilarating beauty, and deepening melancholy, as days become shorter and trees shed their glory. He writes that the “hopeful notion that living is hidden within dying is surely enhanced by the visual glories of autumn. What artist would ever have painted a season of dying with such a vivid palette, if nature had not done it first? How shall we understand autumn’s testimony that death and elegance go hand in hand?”
It is surely a biblical reality. “The summer is over, the harvest past, and we are not saved” is the prophet Jeremiah’s moan. That is the sad note of lostness and losing. But from Jesus, our dying and risen Lord, comes this joyful promise: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Letting go is always hard. But my own experience, over and over, is that beyond loss, however painful, God has another chapter to write in our lives.
So I find my soul coming to rest in the goodness of the Gardener of all seasons. In God’s timing, autumn is not just the tail-end of summer, nor a bridge to winter, but a season in its own right, of sun and shadow, of loss and fruit, of soul – rest in the God who has been good, and will be all the years long.
With love, ORVILLE
(These thoughts adapted from the writing of a minister mentor, Leighton Ford)