“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout . . .
So will My word be . . .
It will not return to Me empty . . . “
The earth is suspended in somber stillness. The full reach of the sky is cloaked in a fine, pale grey mourning cloth. Large drops of cold and dismal tears descend continuously throughout the day: tapping on the rooftops; gurgling through the eaves troughs; washing the walkways; and soaking into the still receptive garden. Heaven is lamenting the culmination of the harvest.
Clustering close to the last warmth of the soil, a few low shrubs cling to their autumn garb of defiant reds, cheeky greens and bold yellows. They know their time is coming, yet celebrate the occasion of their last days brilliantly. Dark limbs of the naked elm trees soar and stretch in supplication. They have let go the last of their leaves. Weeks ago, they loosed their seeds to nestle into the waiting womb of the earth. Cradled in darkness, sheltered from the bitter bite of frost, they rest in dreams and wait.
It is with reluctance I relinquish the phase of fruition and acknowledge the season of surrender. Offering up decomposing matter, living plant life liberates itself for a period of rest and regeneration.
The dying year runs its course. Darkness has begun its slow circuit of swallowing more daylight and stretching into longer night. It is the first harbinger of coming winter, marked by loss, decay, death and grief.
Despite the despairing day, woven by the weeping weather, a glimmering hope glows like the translucent drops of water clinging to barren twigs. Seeds which will root in the coming year are bathed in the amniotic waters of the autumn rain, and wrapped in the warmth of the earth’s womb. They will wile away the winter in gestating transition. Then germinate, and return as renewed creation with the coming of spring.
And what of us, earth’s creatures, clinging to lives outworn? Perhaps we too need to follow the course of nature and turn inward for a time. Like the flowers and trees the old decomposing essence of our lives can be released to make room for the new. While the seeds of our transition are bathed in the amniotic waters of the Spirit, we can absorb the life-giving Word through which we are transformed and born anew.
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