Welcome to late October.
In the midwest, the ground and her children are a brilliant display of green, yellow, orange, and red. And brown. Mostly brown. Brown and brittle. Brown and dry. Brown and blown, end over end, to and fro, until finally shredded into crumbs or else settled for one last rest before all is covered with a blanket of wintry frost.
‘Tis the season to celebrate death – not untimely, unexpected, unnatural death, but rather death that marks the end of a complete cycle, death that finishes a full life, death that spills over with the sweet promise of new life.
The earth is preparing to rest, to breathe, and to sabbath so that she can flourish and thrive and fill the land with her goodness yet again. She is, perhaps, pruning herself – removing that which was once vibrantly alive but has become worn and tired, and making space for that which will be new and fruitful.
It’s important, this little detail: the brittle and brown dying things are not bad, nor diseased, nor rejected. They are not being cast off as an act of judgment or condemnation. Rather, they are being put to rest as an act of humility and worship by an earth that recognizes its limited power. For all of its gracious nurture and protection of life, the earth is not itself an all-powerful creator of life.
I suspect that we people miss all the fullness of life when we fail to rest, when we bypass sabbath, and when we do not offer ourselves up with humility and worship in order to be willingly and wisely pruned, during which our roots, grown deep into the endless love of Christ, remain deep and true.
And then after the rest (sweet, soothing, and sacred) and after the pruning (particular, precise, and purposeful) comes a season of new life and fresh hope, the kind of season we all crave but cannot have without first welcoming and embracing death – death worth celebrating, death that is a beginning, death that is a foretaste of life.