Autumn: Trust The Seeds That Are Being Planted
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Autumn is my favorite season of the year. My soul comes alive with the brilliance of colors, crispness of air, and smells of autumn. I confess that I abhor Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but I do love autumn.
There is so much in the world around us that seems to be “falling,” decaying, and even dying. It is easy to succumb to despair and pessimism. Autumn reminds us that all of the “falling” that is going on around us is full of promise – even if we can’t see it.
Autumn reminds us that hidden beneath the surface, seeds are being planted and leaves are being composted and new life is being prepared. Could it be that possibility and something infinitely richer is being planted in the soil of our souls, even now, in this painful season of our common life together? Barbara Brown Taylor wrote, “…New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark. New life always starts in the dark.”
Parker Palmer suggests seasons are trustworthy guides for our spiritual lives: “Autumn is a season of great beauty, but it is also a season of decline: The days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer’s abundance decays toward winter’s death. Faced with inevitable winter, what does nature do in autumn? She scatters the seeds that will bring new growth in the spring – and scatters them with amazing abandon.
In my own experience of autumn, I am rarely aware that seeds are being planted. Instead, my mind is on the fact that the green growth of summer is browning and beginning to die. As I explore autumn’s paradox of dying and seeding, I feel the power of metaphor. In the autumnal events of my own experience, I am easily fixated on surface appearances – on the decline of meaning, the decay of relationships, the death of a work. And yet, if I look more deeply, I may see the myriad possibilities being planted to bear fruit in some season yet to come.
In retrospect, I can see in my own life what I could not see at the time – how the job I lost helped me find work I needed to do, how the ‘road closed’ sign turned me toward terrain I needed to travel, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to discern meanings I needed to know. On the surface it seemed life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown…
In the visible world of nature, a great truth is concealed in plain sight: diminishment and beauty, darkness and light, death and life are not opposites. They are held together in the paradox of ‘hidden wholeness.’”
I encourage you to be present to the sheer beauty and “falling” of autumn. Find a beautiful leaf that has fallen to the ground, and hold the leaf in your hand. Be reminded that deep down – even now – new life is being prepared. In the dying, what seeds of new life are being planted in your life and in our life together for a season yet to come?
Please don’t offer me a Pumpkin Spice Latte. However, I do encourage us to gather together for worship this fall in this season of our common life together that seems dark, divided, and full of despair. May our faith be strengthened by the promise that new life always begins in the dark. May we not be fixated on surface appearances, but encourage each other to look more deeply and trust the seeds that are being planted for a season yet to come.
As always, grateful to serve you and serve with you,