The signs are all there (at least here in Kansas City): crisp air, gorgeous light, turning, fallen leaves. On September 22nd we passed the Autumnal Equinox, and it’s officially here.
Fall is always a poignant season, but this year loss feels particularly close. It’s been in my life and the lives of some close to me, so as much as I absolutely adore autumn, I also feel acutely the sadness that falling leaves can bring.
I’m reminded of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, Spring and Fall:
To a young child
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Last week I transplanted peonies from my mother-in-law’s yard into ours. This task had been on my mental to-do list since before we moved into our house two years ago; this spring, I set out to get it done, but research revealed that peonies prefer to be relocated in fall. So I waited.
Such a delicate, simple sounding task, but the reality felt much more violent: taking spade to earth to force up these roots that had been so at home where they were, slicing down the middle of bulb clusters to multiply plants, and finally shoving the waving peony tendrils that clung desperately to their ragged root balls unceremoniously into plastic buckets and driving them home.
I am not at all confident that I planted them correctly. Their foliage looks very unhappy in its new home, which adds nicely to the general air of neglect that our backyard currently exudes.
But their roots are in the earth.
So much happens behind the scenes in this life–or underground. It may look like everything on the surface is falling over, coming loose, and ugly.
But our roots are in the earth.
I hope and pray that those peonies’ roots will reach deep and find home in our little plot of dirt, and that next spring we will see them emerge with new life and beauty.
And more than that, I hope and pray that underneath the sadness and brokenness we see in our lives, God will be pulling our roots deep towards Him, so that one day we too will emerge with new Life.
In the meantime, we wait. We hope, pray, practice patience, and learn to see the beauty of the exact season we are in.