The Fall...

The beautiful death of fall is upon us. As leaves lose their life and loosen their grip on twigs so fragile, this "fall" funeral is garnished with colors so brilliant and vibrant that words fall short of describing their glory. My ash trees are the first to announce their imminent departure. Yellow in a more shades than I could describe subtly surface and spread around the green globe of rustling life known quite simply as the tree. The soft maple trees are the only other species to rival the arrival of changing colors found in my one acre lawn.

The cherry trees are stoically resisting the change...the are die hards. It's like they band together with the Oaks to fight against the death of autumn. The cool nights and the cold days with soon break them down and they will give in to the inevitable winter of Michigan. But it is the fight of some species that make fall last so long, spacing out the colorful mirth of this season for months. How horrible it would be to have every tree respond simultaneously to the crowding cool of winter. How tragic to only enjoy the resplendent colors of fall for only two weeks and then be left with naked limbs shivering in the cold. It is the rebellion of certain trees that elongates the beautiful death of autumn. Dying hard isn't all bad.

I love that this season is called "the fall". Theologically speaking "the fall" would be associated with darkness and death and destruction, but seasonally speaking, it represents something quite paradoxical. It is a falling that is welcomed and warm. As leaves fall, we rake them into piles and jump into them. Falling becomes playing. Death brings life. Ending heralds a beginning. A funeral leads to a birth. Like Jesus said, unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it will not produce life. The tree doesn't die, just the leaves. The tree is more alive than ever. The sap is flowing, the roots are deepening...though appearance could fool you into believing the tree itself is dead. Like most things, appearance couldn't be further from reality.

I feel similarly about humanity. It is our humaness, our falleness that carries such a paradoxical power. As we let ourselves die and fall, we change colors and become such a beautiful picture of life. We fall to the gound and life springs from the very place we fell. The tree from which we fall is always alive and growing even as it pushes us away from it to spread the life to barren places. It's such a beautiful picture of the kingdom. The kingdom is always alive even when it looks dead, because the kingdom isn't about appearance, it's about substance. "The kingdom is in your hearts." It makes a showing every now and again on the outside, but it is primarily an unseen reality, and inner thing. And like every growing organism, it forces us to split and die in order to reproduce life. Cells split, Leaves fall...this is ongoing life, this is eternal life, this is everlasting life. And make no mistake, it's beautiful falling, it's a glorious death.

Fall. Color. Death. Life. This is my story. And I like this story.


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