Once again, fall has swept into northern Idaho on the back of a snow-edged breeze, whispering its promises of sweaters and bonfires and sitting in the stands at the high school football game wrapped in a plaid wool blanket. Tiny yellow leaves make a carpet in our hallway, carried in on the breeze and the feet of visitors, as if Lady Galadriel herself has glided through our apartment, shedding golden forest in her wake. The smell of wood smoke from newly laid fires hangs in the air, and the mountains wake up in the mornings wreathed in cold mist, proclaiming the end of summer’s sunny reign for another year.
I love fall. I want to roll in it.
It throws a welcome veil over August’s too-brightness, painting every tree with rich rusts and golds, the soft, stately colors of fading light. It stirs in me the feelings that symphonies must be made of, all wordless joy and sweet quiet in the heart.
I breathe in the autumn and feel at peace with the beginnings and endings of all things.
Always, as I witness this, the leaves’ last brazen unveiling of beauty before their final fluttering journey to the ground, I am reminded again that, as Robert Frost said, “nothing gold can stay.” All earthly things will pass away. This final shout of life and color is even more poignant and lovely because it looks across the days and sees the little death of winter approaching. Soon, too soon, the world will be blanketed in silent snow, and this rich riot of fall leaves will fade into memory.
It would be a sad story if it ended there, wouldn’t it? It’s depressing to think of endings and death. No wonder we sometimes choose not to see the winter approaching. No wonder we wear ourselves out in a desperate scramble to be, to do, to have it all, to force color into our days, denying the coming of the snow while the secret knowledge of it eats away at the back of our minds, taking tiny bites out of our peace and happiness.
But God, in His wisdom, gives us spring.
The very snow that seems to usher in death insulates the seeds of a new beginning, and the trees that looked so barren and naked in the cold winter wind sprout clouds of tiny leaves in fresh, pale green. The snow melts away and silence is replaced by a cacophany of sound. The whole sleeping world wakes up to a new life. Adventure awaits.
And what a great adventure awaits on the other side of my winter!
In the Bible, I John 5:13, it says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
What a wonderful, breathless joy it is to know! Not just to feel it. Not just to hope. Not just to rely on some vague sense that everything will somehow work out all right in the end. But to know! To be able to look across the years (or maybe only days) ahead, and greet death without fear, like a friend coming to give you a ride home. What an incredible gift. What a wonderful peace.
In this season, with its reckless abundance of fading glories, I feel unmasked, as if the joys and melancholies of my own personal seasons are revealed in the bittersweet drama of changing days. Even as I smell the coming snow, I can enjoy the year’s waning riches with a free and easy heart, knowing that the warmth of home is just around the corner.
Because I do know. I have utter confidence in the promise, and in the One who makes it.
And I would love to share.