This year especially, I have found the autumn season beautiful. The weather has been crisp and clean, and the colors of the trees have been exceptionally bright in my mind. My German class took a trip a couple of weeks ago to a park here in downtown Indianapolis, and while there we walked a short way on a path through a woods that surrounds a water reservoir. We stopped at a point on a hill to eat some traditional German cookies and cakes, and I could not help but gaze at the scene that unfolded around me. I have also taken particular notice of the bright red leaves of the trees on campus and the beauty of contrast in the still-green trees with the fiery orange and soft yellows on the neighboring trees.
I think this increased sensation of beauty this year has also added to the sense of sorrow when I see that trees are beginning to become completely bare. Leaves fall in the wind to the ground, almost as if they are foreshadowing the snow that will most likely be falling within a month. And with that snow comes the lack of beauty in the dead-looking trees, with their hard, grey, angular branches bared for the whole world to see because they lack the cover of their leaves. It is almost disheartening to see them in this unsightly phase of their cycle.
After reflecting on this aspect of the month of autumn, I began to reflect on its relevance to every day life. And how relevant it is.
What do we fear in life? We fear vulnerability. We fear weakness. We fear death. We fear being known to the fullest sense by everyone. We fear having ourselves bared for the world to see, much like the winter tree bares its true form without the cover of leaves. So we put up greenery around ourselves so as to keep this from being seen. We blend in with the rest of humanity so that we will not be pointed at by people who wonder what made us vulnerable, weak, dead. These secrets are ours and ours alone, ones that we can deal with if we keep them covered up so that everyone, including ourselves, can ignore that they are there.
But they are there. So how do we deal with it? How do we accept these shortcomings? How do we view our self-observed ugliness? By going through autumn in our own selves. As we begin to break the barriers around our person, our fears begin to die and fall away. And what a beautiful process this is. We transform ourselves through this into unique, colorful, awesome creations. As our fears fall away like leaves, we grow comfortable with the fact that others will see us for who we are, no matter how bared we are. And once we have found ourselves, once we have discovered our true form underneath all of the cover, we can become transformed again. Remember when I said that the leaves falling foreshadow the coming of snow in reality? The shedding of our fearful, leafy barriers precede the falling of the grace and love of God, which gently falls and lands on our frail and bared selves. Thus, we are cloaked with the whiteness that comes from Christ’s salvation, a creation that all of creation takes a moment and stares at in awe.
This makes everything sound all sweet and easy, which I know from experience is not in any way true. But it is an endpoint that we must strive to achieve, even if it is one that we may struggle to reach. We must go through this process of self knowledge so as to fully accept God’s love for us. It is a challenge and a promise, a promise to realize how lovable we really are in the eyes of our eternal Creator; lovable not for keeping our outer selves looking like we have it together, but because we accept the truth of who we are.
” I love autumn, the one season of the year that God seems to have put there just for the beauty of it.” –Lee Maynard