Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Be Still & Watch The Leaves Turn

"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt."

This morning the leaves were swirling on the gravel running path the way only an autumn breeze allows.  Fog settled around the pines, leaving its mark on the dewy wilted dandelions.  I could smell delicious decay in the forest; the earth is once again dying so it can be revived- a beautiful metaphor of rebirth gifted to us through nature.

Pumpkin spiced everything has already been promoted by the big corporations and small town country stores - the universal sign that an orange October is upon us.  The lattes and muffins are pushing nature’s time boundaries; their adverts and Pinterest recipes are suffocating the last breaths of summer.  I love autumn as much as the next person, but my truly favorite part of every year is the transition between seasons.  They have a way of matching up with our personal, human transformations, and summer’s death paints a Dali-like image of its beauty.

One of my favorite quotes about the impending autumn comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  I love the dichotomy of death and life becoming a parallel structure as summer fades to autumn.  Even though the early frost covers fields of grass and the animals are preparing for a harsh winter, the late September sun is still awake after dinner time and summer’s background chorus of cheering baseball fans can still be heard on the streets of Pittsburgh.  The slow transition gives us reflective space; we take chilly morning walks accompanied by a light flannel, waiting for the temperature to rise so we can return to our back porch with sunglasses and lemonade, not wanting to lose one more minute of the green season.

I remember learning about forest fires in earth science class and how, although they kill almost all living organisms in their path, they are needed in order for the ecosystem to restore itself by causing a resurgence of needed nutrients in the affected regions.  The fire may leave behind scar tissue, and make it harder to rebuild, but in the long run the forest needed to die in order to gain back some of what it had lost.  Although summer becoming fall is more of a natural biological transition between life stages than a forest fire, the picture is painted in the same light.  Time must be slowed down before it can start back up again, our biological clocks melting like those in The Persistence of Memory.  The precious last minutes of summer mustn't be crushed by early pumpkin sales and premature Halloween costume shopping.  Autumn needs welcomed slowly, like the first sip of a steaming cup of tea or freshly poured whiskey dram.  

Autumn has always symbolized fresh starts amidst its endings: a new school year, a new sport season, a new Bible study, a new job - all time frames that give us the opportunity to set goals for ourselves like finally acing a Biology exam, scoring your first ever college football touchdown, understanding the gospel of John or learning how to become more efficient and prolific in your career.  Autumn beautifully lays to rest our mistakes or failures over the past year; it creates a golden, clean slate for the promise of personal growth as the cycle of a new year begins.  The crispness of the air parallels our fresh attitudes and makes way for changes.  

Ease into fall, enjoy the last minute amusement park trips and restaurant patio nights; reflect on the past year’s moments, memories and lessons; be thankful for the promise of a new year gifting new opportunities to discern the person you’re meant to be in this life.  

Happy autumn!



"The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can't but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching."

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