It is fall and the leaves are falling, forming golden ponds of orange and yellow upon the paths and roads, the walkways and yards. The leaves rain down from their lofty branches, dead now, having provided our green shade in the warmer months, having protected us from the sun. Now the sun enshrines the riot of color splashed against the hillsides in these last bright bursts before winter.
Changing seasons. Passing time. The living die, the dead mulches new life, waiting in the womb of the earth, for spring. We harvest and prepare the land for its slumber. We prune so that the living may produce new life, trimming branches to stalks, cutting back and throwing out. All the earth moves and changes, rumbling through autumn like a giant beast.
We too rumble to our deaths, having come from cells uniting, having grown miraculously day by day to this present moment, decaying imperceptibly. Our days are numbered and we count the years since our birth, celebrating with song and gifts and love. But we too shall discard our bodies, shall see them decompose into the earth. We shall fall. We shall die.
Yet we have a promise, a hope. We know our spirits shall live on, infused with God’s sacramental grace. We, in baptism, have already been reborn, have already become united with the eternal. We are not leaves of autumn, or the plowed-under field, or even our own bodies that shall one day become ashes and dust. We are immortal, beloved by God.
One day we will be given new bodies, resurrected with God the Son, Christ, pulled with him into glory. Unlike the decomposing earth, we shall live through him. This is the great Christian hope. This is the great Christian victory.
Winter approaches. The days are short, the nights long. The dark encroaches upon the light like an eclipse of the sun, and so too our world, with its wars and rumors of wars is caught in the shadowlands of battle. Our world waits for the light, for the sun to emerge from the shadow of the earth, for dawn to break. We wait for Christ’s coming.
But in the meantime we have the passage of time, the seasons, the glorious drama of the natural world given for our delight. We have the Creeds and the law and love of God to keep us straight and true, to place our feet on the right path through the days and weeks and months of the year, through the seasons of sowing and reaping and slumber. We have Sunday worship and communing with him in the Eucharist so that Monday will be a day of life and love.
As a child I liked to jump in the leaves, hearing the crunch, feeling the crisp collapse. Now I sweep them aside to prepare a path, and marvel at their colors. Tomorrow I shall walk between them, through them, as they rain upon me, to new and glorious life.