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The Cotillion of Autumn

posted Nov 4, 2016, 10:50 AM by HTEC Bowie

Evocations: A Lectionary Blog

The Rev. Leslie m. St. Louis 

I have lived many places in my life and I can’t think of a one that has not had something of tremendous beauty in every season. But every place I have lived has out done itself in autumn. I love the change in the light as fall comes and the shock of color that seems to erupt from foliage sometimes overnight. I am quite sure that in this season of the year God simply puts on a show; painting for us the most vibrant of pallets, proving to us around every corner that there are really no rules to which colors go together and taking our breath away as the progression of brilliant hues greets us against an ever widening expanse of impossibly blue sky.

I am watching today as a playful breeze begins to pick the leaves up in a colorful dance, the cotillion of autumn. Soon, the winds will come strong and steady and bring the leaves to the ground, laying everything bare before the dark of winter descends and all can rest; nurtured in the long quiet hours before bursting forth with the dawn of spring.

This is the pattern of life--birth, growth, death, new life. Many places the world over either have or will celebrate All Saints Day this week. The traditions are wide and varied from something as solemn as lighting candles to great celebrations in cemeteries where graves are decorated with flowers and candles and there is music and singing. A cotillion for the dead. A time to remember, to sit with them, to commune with them, just as if they were here with us. But that is not where we stay, is it? Just as Jesus did not stay in the valley of the dead we too leave this place and come back out into the light into a place of brilliant color and energy and vitality.

I have often wondered if we are missing some of the point by taking the candles and the flowers and the celebration to the cemetery where we have “left” our loved ones. I have come to think that the splendor of fall is all around us so that we might experience them-- still with us in the vitality of life-- not keep them tucked away in some separate place apart from the progression that is life.

My father loved to look at the sky, and while the ravages of macular degeneration took many pleasures from him, he remained able to scan the skyline and continued to appreciate the beauty there in front of him until the very end. He would often say to anyone who was near enough to hear, “just look at that gorgeous sky.” I think of him often on these gleaming fall days. But one day some time ago, I had an experience of his presence very near. I had come out of a chapel with our primary school and one of my first grade little boys stopped beside me, tucked his hands in his pants, and looked up and said, “look at that sky.” And in that moment the saints alive and the saints who have gone before collided!

I pray your saints are very near to you this season and always and that there presence brings not only the tears that spring quickly to the eye but the smile that meets the place where they have fallen. I pray you know their presence in the many paths your life will take for we have been promised, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”