I’ve just returned from a trip to New England, my second in as many months. When I left Durham it was warm and my garden was full of orange, fuchsia, pink and white zinnias. When I returned this week the air had turned chilly and the leaves had fallen off our little persimmon tree.
The rest of the garden has turned golden brown, and the zinnias have left behind only their colorful memory and the scattered promise of seeds resting now in soil. Some changes of seasons come gradually, while others come suddenly. The same is true in life. Over the past two months, my father fell and broke his collarbone and ribs, and got a concussion; my father-in-law died (peacefully at the age of 93), and my mother fell and broke her hip. We barely had time to deal with one event before the next had suddenly happened. It’s been a season in our family of remembering funny stories and hard truths, of slowing down and putting aside usual routines, a whole new season of asking for help. We’ve appreciated professional competence, especially when it arrives with kindness and empathy. Most of the professionals we’ve encountered have brought these fine qualities to our most vulnerable moments. Their authentic presence and care have been a balm to me in these anxious times, and it’s really helped all our parents.
The trees in North Carolina hold their leaves longer than in New England, and the glow of their amber, gold, and russet tones lasts longer in the rich mellow light of the autumn sun. In another month we’ll be raking our lawns and preparing for winter. But until the leaves fall we’ll walk in a world made rich with marvelous color and mellow light. And when they’re gone we’ll have the memory of their beauty, the generosity and abundance they shared with us, and the gift of nuts and seeds for food as well as for the next generation of woodlands and gardens. It is much the same with my parents, and I treasure the richness, beauty, and love that’s the fruit of this season of their lives.
And so this November as the leaves fall, I praise Autumn. And as I walk at the slower pace of walkers and canes, with deep gratitude I praise the beauty and goodness of Life itself.