Much have I spoken of the faded leaf;
Long have I listened to the wailing wind,
And watched it ploughing through the heavy clouds,
For autumn charms my melancholy mind.
When autumn comes, the poets sing a dirge:
The year must perish; all the flowers are dead;
The sheaves are gathered; and the mottled quail
Runs in the stubble, but the lark has fled!
Still, autumn ushers in the Christmas cheer,
The holly-berries and the ivy-tree:
They weave a chaplet for the Old Year’s bier,
These waiting mourners do not sing for me!
I find sweet peace in depths of autumn woods,
Where grow the ragged ferns and roughened moss;
The naked, silent trees have taught me this,
The loss of beauty is not always loss!
Elizabeth Drew Stoddard, American Poet, 1823 – 1902
Autumn has a beauty all its own. The sky. The leaves changing color. The bare trees casting different and spooky shadows in the moonlight. Some find this season depressing as the colors fade and the world seems more monotone before the coming of Christmas reds and greens. But I enjoy the paler colors, the way the earth seems to fold into itself. The truth of the last line of the poem by Elizabeth Drew - the loss of beauty is not always a loss. - is that there is sometimes a greater gift when all the outward trappings are gone.
Sometimes we have to see past what we think we now to get to the core of something, like a tree shedding its leaves that lays bare the truth with its knots and whirls, its birds’ nests and squirrels. Then you can discover things you might have known were there but couldn’t clearly see until the leaves were gone. Suddenly there they are and you wonder how you ever missed them to begin with.
Sometimes it is like that in seeing God in our lives. Our days are so crowded with activities and schedules that we just don’t see God at work, much less have time to consider how God’s presence is woven through our days. Sometimes it takes changes of season, of life, or the year to make us stop and wonder. Sometimes it is because of sorrow or celebration that we stop and look back and finally see how the Great Artist has been painting our days.
In this season of change and reflection, as the colors fade and the world around us seems to pull itself in seeking warmth and light, take the time to look back and see how God is present in all your moments and, appropriately for November, give thanks.