The Fall

The weather has changed overnight–the unseasonable summer warmth vanished. The Wild Winds (so I’ve called them for many a year, spring and fall) are screaming down from the north-by-northwest, rattling and banging everything in the yard that isn’t tied down. Buffeting my one-ton truck on the highway as if it weren’t rock-solid. Two layered knits didn’t keep me comfortable, even in the shelter of the city; I have just now bought a coat and wondered why I didn’t pick it up last week when I first looked at it.

The yard thumps and groans as sagging farm architecture tastes its age. Night has swept in on a thick fist of cloud that flings itself outward into a blanket smothering silver half-moon and bright stars. Cold rains have been taunting and spitting all day.

It’s lovely. Home after an afternoon of Sibelius and Tchaikovsky, I am swept in the door by the fierce dark edge of time’s turning, and this – wind-tossed hair, cold-nipped face – this satisfies me. I can be at one with the season’s change: it’s not bent on evil, only highly unsedate in its obedience to the Maker.

I cocoon indoors, and I’m faced with everything I didn’t accomplish this year. In more ways than just the incredible amount of things that need fixing – the miraculous management skills to find the needed funding for this out-of-date Picasso-grunge structure we call our house also elude me.

I retreat to my desk in the corner, and I’m faced with everything I didn’t accomplish this year. This month. This week. Today.

This is very hard for me: to set goals and find myself making the choice to lay them aside or even just delay them. It provokes anger, it provokes resentment of whatever’s changed my plans or sapped my strength. It can be dangerous for my relationship to my God. Because sometimes, God changes our plans. Sometimes, God lets our strength be sapped in order to bring us to the end of ourselves. This is the ultimate challenge to a storm on legs.

Fall is the time to reflect on death, change, and things that will never be again. Every year, as brown leaves spiral across lonely roads, and once-green grasses dry to all the hues of a day’s gold-and-russet end, I recover something of my heart, something pushed aside by polite society and smothered by civilization’s deceitful mask. A truth that needs to rise and walk, not hide.

I’m a dying thing in a fading, crumbling world. Winds cease; clouds scatter; rain ends. This is the time when I write more songs, feel closer to the prairie soils I’m planted in, breathe the strident winds more deeply. Dying, I will die. That’s not just my peace; it’s my hope.