[Rebecca Reynolds (aka “Becca”) has quickly become one of my favorite writers. Her creativity has greatly affected my own in the past few months as we’ve been writing songs together. This post from her blog is typical of her depth of seeing and style –Ron Block]
Four months ago, the hillsides tumbled green upon green. Valleys and rises were determined by a narrow spectrum of shadows and brights. More or less, the landscape was monotone, summer lazy, and supple. Confident maple leaves hung in all their twenty-something vigor, acquainted with hearty rain and heated winds, thinking they knew what there was to know.
I remembered being that age, so I didn’t laugh. Instead, I was tender, because October visits us all.
Yesterday, thrown handfuls of yellow leaves hung like stars against a navy green wood. Spots of light clung to branch with newfound brevity, sensing their weakening connection to familiarity. That which has nourished will release. In the glory of dying, in the flame of brilliance, each little golden body realized that it would pass through the womb of falling to the earth.
I beheld contrast upon contrast. Each life manifest its individuality, because this is what happens in the season of death. The green has gone, the true has come. The covering of the corporate is no longer.
Ochre grasses were painted willowy and bowing in their individual lines. There were tufts of silver grey, slices of red, bushes burning like a hearth. White seed pods cast their children upon hope of spring. Shrubs fussed over their holiday decorations, and fifteen stubborn trees held desperately to the last of their lime like thirty-nine-year-old women.
Autumn awakens. Here, depth is defined by variation.
Most of my life, I have walked among a summer’s faith where two-dimensional promises were made by a pleasant Western culture: “Jesus will perfect my marriage. Jesus will make my children wise, and strong, and moral. Jesus will help me obtain financial abundance. Jesus will make me confident, exegetically sound, and able to collect a little flock of admiring disciples. Jesus passes out health in twelve steps and truth in five points. I will walk manicured and full of my own right choices into a ripe old age of comfort.”
Perhaps. Yet often we imply that the Jesus we worship would never allow us a season of uncertainty, or vulnerability, or war. We think he wants us to be fat, full of ourselves, and sure. We know belief tumbling in summergreen strength through valleys and heights, simple and monotone, making promises of happily ever earthly after.
It is a breed of faith easy enough to manage among wealthy people expecting pleasant things. That is why the anomalies are so horrifying: sicknesses, disasters, misunderstandings, prisons of all sorts, Novembers in June. The story shouldn’t go this way, we think. Dyings are such a shock, for the Jesus we have loved is pleasant and easy, and we shop for him until we find him sold our way.
A thousand times I have read the words, but who ever believes them without October skies grown low and grey? You have died. The old has gone. The new has come. The old shell must be sucked of its green juices and tumble down, resigned to the contrast. For there is another world, and it is often winter here when spring there rises.
The veins of fallen leaves read like hymns, yellow-running, red, and holy. They are prophets of a new dimension.
My life is gone.
Behold what is left:
Rebecca Reynolds teaches Classical Rhetoric and Philosophy of Faith in eastern Tennessee, and is a contributor to the Story Warren website. She’s the author and illustrator of the pediatric series From the Medical Files of Dr. Phineas C. Bones and collaborated with Ron Block as the lyricist for his critcally-acclaimed album, Walking Song. She lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, with her husband and three children.