Although I love all four seasons, I have a special fondness for autumn. Where I live, it comes with cooler temperatures, shorter days, and brilliant colors. You can’t miss fall or ignore it. Today I’ve selected three autumn photos for you: a woods, an apple tree, and a burning bush. For each picture I’ve written a short reflection. I invite you to take a few moments now to enjoy this beautiful but fleeting season.
The Golden Woods
God says to me: “Come in! Do come in! I’ve painted these woods gold and brown and yellow just for you…Come in and swish your feet among the crisp fallen leaves. I’ve created that sound just for you too…Look up…look down…look all around. Listen… smell… touch… taste. It’s all for you. All!…Walk around if you wish…or stand in one place…or sit on a log…or even kneel on the carpet of leaves….I know you are busy doing all kinds of good things, but I hope you can afford a few minutes just to enjoy this special season….Do come in, my Beloved, and just be…with me.”
To Eve: Scripture doesn’t say what kind of fruit it was that tempted you, but tradition says it was an apple. We are quick to judge you harshly for that. “An apple?” we ask. “You gave up glorious paradise for a lowly apple?” We say that because apples are common and plentiful for many of us. Consequently we take them for granted. But the apple you saw hanging on that tree that day was the most beautiful apple you had ever laid your eyes upon. And when you picked it off the tree and held it in your hand, it took your breath away. It was so round, so red, so smooth, so shiny! It all but seduced you into biting into it. And when you did, you found the inside so white, so firm, so sweetly tart! And its juice ran down your chin. Never had you tasted anything quite like it before! Little wonder you quickly looked around for Adam, for someone to share it with.
Eve, I have experienced apples as beautiful and as delicious as that one that must have tempted you. And although I don’t condone your eating the fruit of that tree, I do understand how and why you did it. I really do. Honest.
The Burning Bush
The “burning bush” is a kind of deciduous shrub. Although it is green most of the year, in autumn its leaves turn a brilliant red before they fall. I had a friend who turned her small back yard into a verdant garden. I asked her once if she had ever considered planting a burning bush in her garden. She said she had, but she decided against it. “Fifty weeks of ordinariness for a brilliant two-week splurge of color?” she said. “I didn’t think it was worth it.”
She had a point. At the same time I wondered: What is the acceptable ratio of the ordinary to the extraordinary in our lives? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know this: Sometimes we are too quick to label things “ordinary” and, therefore, not worth our time and attention. In doing so we miss out on their true extraordinariness. Take the burning bush. Why should we limit our appreciation of this shrub to the brief time it is bright red? Why can’t we appreciate it all year long—when its branches are filled with tiny buds or with lush green leaves—or even when its lack of leaves reveals the delicate but sturdy structure of its bare branches?
God of the ordinary and extraordinary, give me a discerning eye to see the extraordinary in the ordinary things of daily life!
What are some of your thoughts and feelings about autumn or about any of these three reflections?