The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
“Autumn Leaves” by Johnny Mercer
Autumn is the interwoven tapestry of the year. It is no wonder that we celebrate in the latter quarter of the year. For, pressed into that short period of time is all the wonder of the year that has been, and the preparation for the winter to come.
Every season has its own special nature. Winter is the stark and stunning message of hidden hope. It strips the surface and buries the faded things in preparation for what lies beneath the surface making ready for the life to come. Spring is the palate of youth. It longs to be set free. Bursting with life, it is a playful child that runs through the fields with no regard for anything other than the joy of the day. And while it pouts at the spoiling rain, it still grabs it galoshes and dares the weather to hamper its fun. Summer is bold and brazen. It is the caffeine drink of life. Summer is the timeless moment that makes us feel like we are standing in eternity. It is the sun-soaking hours of rich pleasure in which we carelessly abandon sense in the single-minded pursuit of selfish ambition. It is an escape to reward ourselves for what we believe we have accomplished, the hard work we claim to have done, and the thought that there is more yet to do.
Then there is autumn. Autumn may be the real key. There is in autumn a rich mixture of life. Drawn together in interwoven threads, it presents a picture in reality. The preceding part of the year has been a bit like one of those drawings done in the presence of everyone, but not really revealed. The artist has turned the picture in such a way that the image is somewhat covert. What you think you see is not really what the drawing really is. Oh, you enjoy what you see, but you are only seeing a part of the picture from a limited perspective. Autumn is the finished work. It is that moment when the picture is turned for all to see. It is the moment when all eyes widen, mouths drop, and hearts engage. It is that “WOW” moment that awakens the mind to know that every earlier season of time has been building for this moment. Autumn is the spectacle of life.
It may be that the “autumn of life” has the best perspective for living. Follow the progression. We cherish children and long for the energy and innocence they have. Still, they need experience and guidance to channel their drive. Our culture tends to worship youthful adulthood. Young, unlined faces are the heart of media and entertainment. The strength of youth in sport is admired and desired by every age. At the same time the declining days of “senior-dom” engage fear in us for its appearance and for its loss of power. It is the autumn of life, those mellow days of maturity between youth and decline that have the best perspective on living.
It is the angle that brings the beauty of reality to view. Consider the season. As the axis tilts and the sun sinks to that southern angle, the filtering atmosphere helps the sun’s lighting power bring the colors of nature to full vibrancy. Mixed with the changes of time, a full palette of color embraces the architecture of creation. In other words, autumn is far more than the precursor of the coming winter. It really is the culmination of all the beauty of nature exposed to view in one season.
So is life. We may think we have it all at other points. Maturity may even be belittled for the nostalgic sense it holds. It shouldn’t be. Instead it should be recognized for the more complete perspective it has. The autumn of life should be something of a prize, a treasure to be sought and celebrated.
As we reach that special season of life we have choices. We can retreat from the common view. We can even carry our time like a club intended to berate the other seasons. The better choice is to allow the autumn of life to simply be an opportunity to be seen, known, and shared. There is so much to offer. There is so much to be absorbed. We can make it available as a blessing and not a controlling oppression. The autumn of life reminds everyone of what has been, and warns of what is to come. It is wisdom in color displayed and shared in the panorama of life.
There is no doubt that winter will come, but for a season we can enjoy the wonder of autumn. Autumn is a blessing.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind” (Philippians 3:12-16).
Russell L. Dyer