An Embarrassment of Riches


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.

Beloved autumn.

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.

11 responses »

  1. I love this post. I would also love to experience Autumn as you described it at least once before I die. I mean, yes, we end up with leaves all over the ground, but they never actually turn pretty colors – they just die & fall, waiting to be picked up and thrown into a trash bag. Even though I know it’s ‘technically’ autumn, it’s still summer here in Texas – yesterday’s high was 104!

  2. Wow — that’s beautiful. I just moved to Manhattan and I can say that I the one thing I am going to miss the most is the feeling of autumn in a place far far far from highrises and cars. Your post put it so eloquently 🙂

  3. I have seen fall in the three months I was in Illinois and the few days I was in Mass’ts and New Hampshire and its certainly one of the most beautiful sights I have seen.

    I’ve always loved winter…I have never SEEN snow we don’t get any in the tropics and didn’t get to se it when I was in America either:( I am sure snow would be beautiful in its own way!

  4. My friend, you don’t know how appropos this is for me today. How happy/sad it makes me.

    Oh, and you are an absolutely gorgeous writer.

  5. Who knew there was someone out there that loved Autumn as deeply as I? Who knew there was someone out there that could put that love into such wonderful words? It’s no use for me to try not to cry. Autumn is the most fleeting of seasons and the most dearly loved by me. Winter is pretty wonderful too. Thank you for sharing a love of autumn. Thank you for such a wonderfully written post. And . . . I can’t believe your leaves are turning in Idaho already!! Today is October 3 in Ohio and it is HOT!! Craziness. The colors will come soon though – they have to.

  6. HAHA! Okay, I was in tears – that post was so beautiful. Tomorrow is my eighth anniversary. The reason I got married in October was because PA is SO beautiful in the fall. I love it. So, I’m crying over your blog, then I read my bestest friend’s comment. She has no idea I love fall nearly as much as she does. Bear, hun, we need to talk more (giggle). Katrina – beautiful. I will be reading that one a few more times.

  7. Wow…all you people still stuck in summer, I’m sorry! Feel free to vicariously enjoy my autumn in Idaho. Try turning on the air-conditioner and lighting some pumpkin and cinnamon scented candles…maybe you can fool your senses, at least!

    Thanks for the wonderful, encouraging comments–you guys are great.

    Jill–What a lovely thing to say, my friend! And I hope the happy/sad ratio is tilted a bit more towards the former than the latter.

    Jennifer–glad you like my new look. I waded into the template editor like the proverbial bull in the china shop, without a clue what I was doing. After lots of trial and error and only one consultation with the on-staff computer geek, voila!

    The colors make me inexplicably hungry, though.

  8. Katrina,

    Every time your Mom and I read something you have written that captures the pure essence of some object or concept. (like this one) We stand together in front of the computer with glee and say to each other and all who will listen, “See what we made 30 odd years ago. And it needed very little water during its growth, only a little TLC. Time that was very well spent.”


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