At the Falling of the Leaf

Written by Drew on November 14th, 2008

Alabama is beautiful this time of the year. Autumn is winding down, and we might have one or two more weeks of beautiful fall foliage—those reds, yellows, and browns. The earth has shifted on its axis like a person turning in his sleep to avoid the daylight creeping through his window, and we breathe a sigh of relief as the temperatures drop below that of the average person’s body heat. It gets hot here in the summertime. This gives Alabamians a better perspective on autumn than, say, people from Canada. Canadians don’t know what three months of 90-degree temperatures feel like. Autumn for them is a precursor to winter, which in Canada is terrifying.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti wasn’t Canadian, but he did have a pessimistic outlook on fall, as his poem, “Autumn Song,” demonstrates:

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

Something tells me Rossetti was writing about more than the change in the seasons. Perhaps he penned these words in the autumn of his life. Life, it seemed, was over, making death “a comely thing.”

Job took a different approach to this period of his life. While defending himself to his friends, those “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2), he said, “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent” (Job 29:2-4). The word “prime” can also be translated “my autumn days.” Evidently, Job’s sorrows came upon him in the period of his life when he was ready to harvest the fruits of all his labors. He was wealthy in possessions, family, and friends. Of course, we know that all of this was cut short by Satan’s evil schemes, but Job incidentally makes an important point in his perspective on old age. Life can be good at the fall of the leaf, as long as a person has lived his life so as to have something to harvest in that time.

Life is a gift at any age, but our days are short. Job described it as a “breath” (Job 7:7). And James famously asked, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas. 4:14). If we are not careful, we’ll take our lives for granted and become bitter about the struggles we have to endure. Endure the trials, but don’t forget the blessings. Life is good, especially when the friendship of God is on your tent. That’s true at any age, whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall.

 

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