Still I notice You when change begins, and I’m braced for colder winds
I’ll offer thanks for what has been & what’s to come, You are autumn.
– Nichole Nordeman
It was early. Too early. Driving north with the sun rising slowly over the harvested fields. Fields that stood tall in the hot, July sun now breathe their last under cold October skies.
Two cups of coffee for the drive. A perfect fall day for making the trip north. To the place where he entered the fullness of faith; where we shared our first kiss. To a shrine, a dome, and the most beautiful church this side of the Tiber. To touchdown Jesus. To home.
On a two-lane road dotted with small towns and large farms, surrounded by trees in every luscious color on the spectrum, I was reminded of death. Watching from my window as leaves shivered and gasped their last, finally letting go and tumbling softly to the earth, I realized that we are to be like they are. To bloom and grow, shine beautifully until it’s time to let go. Then let go. Trusting enough in His goodness to fall freely, softly into what lies next. A line from one of my favorite poems expresses it thus:
When it’s over I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” -Mary Oliver “When Death Comes”
God does not want that for us either. We know that God wants for us to be fully alive, to embrace fully the life He’s planned. Part of that embrace is realizing that the day will come to let go. It’s easy to remember that with the daily reminders of letting go piling up in my yard and all around me on a slow Saturday drive.
As the sun crept higher, over fields to illuminate the splendor of the leaves, it struck me that it’s no coincidence that All Hallows Eve, All Saints, and All Souls days occur at this turning of the year. All creation mimics the cycle of our lives, the seasons of the Church.
This letting go, this embrace of God’s plan, the saints lived it. The Church, like any good Mother, gives us their example to help us grow. How apt, then that the feast of all the saints happens when the leaves are thickest on the ground. When the trees have “surrendered”.
When do we? When do I let it all go?
The song whose lyrics begin this post say in part, “Even now in death You open doors for life to enter.” The singer is talking about Winter, but she’s talking about us as well. Autumn is about learning to let go and fall softly, even if we fall into death. Creation prepares itself for the “death” of winter, so that out of that “death” spring can be born. We too, must in these waning days of the year prepare to “die well”. To sin, to ourselves, to the choice not to love. Its the only way to fully live.