October 23, 2012   COMMENTS (15)

Autumn’s Symphony

Things are dying.

As hard as we try to cover our grief with seasonal gaiety, a few moments pondering the multicolored shroud lying on the forest floor is enough to bring us back to reality. Things are dying.

The death of the growing season, glorious as it is, serves to remind us of the truth etched deep in our psyches: nothing is permanent in this world and there’s not a thing we can do about it!

This past weekend my parish celebrated the anointing of the sick at our Sunday Masses. I was reminded, yet again, of why I love the church. Despite the well documented failures of some of our leaders, our church continues to offer a unique gift to believers, as it has for 2000 plus years.  Inexpressible truth is expressed here, if we listen with our hearts and imaginations.

The few extra moments our congregation spent at church last Sunday, praying with those courageous souls willing to admit their need for healing, presented us with a powerful opportunity – a reality check of sorts. As the growing season draws to a close, so does the liturgical year. We are reminded through readings, song and environment that things are dying. No one gets out of this alive. But there is still hope!

I am dying, but the eternal God – who made me, loves me and holds me in existence – continues to offer hope and strength throughout my journey. I will encounter suffering and finally death. But, like the leaves whose death provides nourishment for the future life of the tree and the forest, my death, my many deaths, also lead to new life.

Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark finds Jesus in a particularly interesting situation.The apostles James and John had a proposition for him. It seems clear from several scripture stories that these two brothers must have been standouts in the group. Jesus even had a pet name for them, “The Sons of Thunder.” I don’t know whether that speaks of them as explosive, loud or stormy, or maybe it actually does refer back to their father, Zebedee. For some reason Jesus liked them enough to bring them along, with Peter, on several significant occasions when the others were left behind. The two brothers must have been feeling pretty confident when they tried to extract a promise from Jesus – that they would retain their special places in Jesus’ kingdom.

From the day we are born we want to be special to someone. Or should I say someone special. I mean SPECIAL. I mean the favorite. I wonder how many times our prayers, in essence, are a “proposition” to God, a demand to be God’s favorite?

Can you see Jesus as his friends bring him their request? I, for one, would have been a little irritated. Maybe he was, too. But his answer to them comes from his heart of compassion. He gently lets them know that they are on the same road as he – the road through suffering to death to new life. Filling their need to be the favorite is not his place.

Filling my need to be special – to be the favorite – is not God’s place. But in God’s infinite love I am learning to live the truth of who I really am – a sparrow, a field flower, one hair on someone’s head – or maybe one leaf on a magnificent golden maple!

If I stop to listen, I can hear the trees singing their lives out for love of the One who made them. Sometimes I can even hear my own voice, and it’s part of that song. I can die to my “special” self and embrace my unique life as a contributor to God’s dream for creation.

Seeing this truth is the beginning of wisdom. A death of sorts? Yes. But glorious? Oh yes!

15 thoughts on “Autumn’s Symphony

  1. Hi Andrea,

    Lovely post, as always.

    I know you want to know that people read, so I am commenting!

    There are links over at my place to a lot of sites you might enjoy. And I am getting ready to do some rehabbing, so then there might be more.

  2. A well written piece. I enjoy your writings. They help to keep things in perspective for me as I read them…thank you for that. 🙂

  3. Fall is a lovely season but also pulls on my emotions, and hard to deal with the thought that I’ll have to wait months for the leaves to come back on the deciduous trees.

    I find myself wanting this sometimes as well… but I think God has infinite capacity to help us all–it’s just the ability to remember this and open up and ask that is sometimes challenging for me. I think we are all God’s favorites!

  4. I recently made a retreat at Villa Maria in PA. It must have been peak for the fall colors, and I spent so much time walking through the woods. Your phrase “…I can hear the trees singing their lives out for love of the One who made them” captures what I was feeling, seeing, hearing as I walked through all that beauty of creation!

  5. Loved the meditation! You are such a good writer! Just a thought: I had this gorgeous three in front of my house ever since I live here. It is an ash tree. For a couple years now it is dying from ash worms. It was there yesterday, today it is gone; chopped down… Like so many things/ people in our lives: they color, brighten our days, and on day they are gone… Fall is a great season for reminiscing…

  6. Your blog made me remembera saying we had at our sales office. When you are green, you are growing; when you are ripe, you are rotten…

    • I guess I’d prefer to think of “ripeness” as you put it, being another stage on the journey! Still, admitting we are “green” is certainly an important step in becoming open to growth!

  7. Thanks Andrea for your thought provoking
    Autumn’s Symphony. Autumn does remind us of death–but also of new life.
    Each one of us is God’s special person.
    Peace, say hello to everyone. Love, Pat and Ellie

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