United Church of Christ

Autumn

Autumn is falling upon us here in upper Ohio.

The air is crisp and cool. Light jackets are giving way to heavier coats. Winds are blowing, leaves are turning, skies have turned a dull gray, and darkness comes earlier and earlier each evening while the sun seems to sleep in a little later each morning.

I’ve always loved the fall. It really is my favorite time of the year. As a child, fall Saturdays were when we played our soccer matches. Fall Sundays meant sitting on the couch with Dad watching football. There was Halloween coming, a childhood delight of pumpkin carving, costume wearing, and candy gathering. I would stand under the maple in our front yard and try to catch falling leaves adorned in the colors of the season. There was an awareness that the hibernations of winter were soon coming – and therefore play time in the yard and the neighborhood would soon be abandoned for a long winter inside. We made the most of those shortening days of autumn.

It now occurs to me that this season stands as one of the annual reminders of how life moves through its seasons and cycles. There is a lightness to the spring, a leaping again into the promise of something new coming into being. There is a soberness to the fall, a stark reminder of the temporality and mortality of all life. It is a carpe diem season – a call to grab life by the scruff of the neck and get from it all you can, for tomorrow the dormancy of dying threatens.

Summer days seem to never end, and you awaken to an attitude of taking your play-time for granted.

Fall days shorten with each passing one, and that time in the sun is cherished all the more. The poet writes: “Gather rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: and this same flower that smiles today tomorrow may be dying.”

That right there is the feeling of fall.

These rhythms that earth expresses are sacred. They suggest an eternity even as they reveal mortality. What comes to us as a closing opens up again as a new beginning. What looks like a dying becomes a rising. With one season comes a sobering of the spirit, while with another comes a rejoicing.

Fall wants us to feel the coming darkness and, while not ignoring it, embrace what is left of the light.

We dance our way to hope in the shadows that linger in shortening days.

Fall is a lesson that teaches us to trust a creator who speaks of new life in the closing of doors, the ending of seasons, the cessation of breath, the building of tombs.

Though sorrow lingers through the night, joy cometh in the morning.

Take your coat out of the closet and embrace the coming chill. Let the earth freeze again, setting the course for the thaw that prepares it to take the seed. Celebrate the one who gives breath, shepherds us through the shadowed valleys, and recreates light and life on this, our journey Into the Mystic.