Poetry, October 2009
For many of us the fall of the year is a time of sadness and the long memory. All around us there are the evidences of fading, of withdrawal, of things coming to an end. What was alive and growing only a few short days or weeks ago seems now to have fulfilled itself and fallen back into the shadows. Vegetation withers but there is no agony of departure; there seems to be only death and stillness in the fall.
Those who have been ill all summer seem to get a deepening sense of foreboding in the fall. It is the time of the changing of the guard. It is the season of the retreat of energy. It is a time of letting go. It is a period of the first exhaustion. It is the period of the storms, as if the wind itself becomes the Avenging Angel too impatient to wait for the coming of death and the quiet fading of bud and flower and leaf. The rain is not gentle in the fall, it is feverish, truculent, and vicious. All the fury of wind and rain are under toned by a vast lull in tempo and the running down of all things. There is a chill in the air in the fall. It is not cold; it is chilly, as if the temperature cannot quite make up its mind. The chill is ominous, the forerunner of the vital coldness of winter.
But the fall of the year is more than all this; much, much more. It marks an important change in the cycle of the year. This change means that summer is passed. One season ends by blending into another. Here is a change of pace accenting a rhythm in the passing of time. How important this is! The particular mood inspires recollection and reflection. There is something very steadying and secure in the awareness that there is an underlying dependability in life–that change is part of the experience of living. It is a reminder of the meaning of pause and plateau.
But the fall provides something more. There is harvest, a time of ingathering, of storing up in nature; there is harvest, a time of ingathering, of storing up in the heart. There is the time when there must be a separation of that which has said its say and passes–that which repens and finds its meaning in sustaining life in other forms. Nothing is lost, nothing disappears; all things belong, each in its way, to a harmony and an order which envelops all, which infuses all.
Fall accentuates the goodness of life and finds its truest meaning in the strength of winter and the breath of spring. Thank God for the fall.
by Howard Thurman
Poetry, October 2009