The Fall. It evokes two entirely polar opposite responses in me.
On the one hand “The Fall” represents a time in history when all that was pure and good and innocent was traded for “The Knowledge of God and Evil”. The Tree of Life just wasn’t enough. Mankind picked the wrong tree and we are left with knowledge instead of life. Dang.
But this idea of trees brings me to “the fall” that surfaces probably one of the most nostalgic and idyllic feelings I experience within the cycle of a year. Trees start shedding leafs to prepare for the brutal Michigan winter storing sap like a squirrel stores nuts. Leafs start dying a slow death as the tree stops nourishing them. They hang on as long as possible changing color as if holding their breath in suffocation.
Leaves are at their peek of beauty right now, gloriously dying with honor. It is a pageantry of elegance and splendor. Maples are fighting for the best red hue. Oaks are turning orange and salmon and bronze. Ash are displaying as assortment of yellows as diverse and unique as a human’s fingerprint. All the other trees are filling in the missing colors in between making each patch of woods majestic.
The Fall of Mankind was most certainly a death, and a death of epic proportions. It changed the course of history and wrote upon every human heart the depravity of our first ancestors. I can feel it hover over me each morning as I wake, greeting me with the kiss of Judas. It is the sinister curse of sin crouching at everyone’s door waiting to pounce on the party of life. This kiss burns and sends a spell of death coursing through our veins speaking foul words into our heart that seek to suffocate us, cutting us off from the life source of creation. I can feel it all around me.
But the Fall of Creation speaks of another story happening even as death pulls us downward, and the gravity of depravity assists the spiraling freefall. It reminds us that within the dying, God has mysteriously woven something beautifully redemptive. As we die something magnificent occurs. The vibrant color only serves as a harbinger of what is to come, a forerunner announcing the consummation of what can only be called “unlikely” redemption.
As the luminous leaf alights the earth awaiting its impending funeral, its texture becomes hard and brittle eventually decomposing and nourishing the seeds that fell earlier in the spring. The seeds die (at least to the naked eye)blanketed under the layers of dead leaves and all hope is lost as the autumn rain pounds them into the cracks and crevices of the earth burying all hope of their survival. They are covered with thatch and mud and compost, laid to rest forever forgotten.
The cold winter tortures creation with hail and frost and ice, harassing vegetation with such fierce frigidity that it goes into a shock called dormancy. This coma, ironically enough, actually keeps the seeds alive as they weather the inclement conditions of winter.
The spring thaw wakes up the unconscious seeds and breathes life into their membranes. They are called out of the tomb-womb and raised to new life. The death is swallowed up in victory, as nature becomes a symbol of God’s redemption of man from the fall.
Like Jesus said, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies…” …oh, you know the rest. Life, color, beauty, fall, death, burial, redemption, thawing, spring, restoration.
The Fall is a bittersweet phrase…it speaks of both depravity and glory, destruction and redemption, death and life. I love the Fall. It has given God such a awesome canvas on which to paint something so resplendently redemptive. The color of the gospel can’t be seen without it.