Time of Gold


Out, into the limpid gold of autumn I walked. It was my first walk in several weeks. I looked across at the Colorado foothills and saw the first turning of the leaves flickering across their faces like laughter. There won’t be many days with this kind of joy. We had snow this week; three days of fat, complacent white flakes that seemed to have moved in to stay. But then this day came along, chill, but bright, and chased them away for a while. I had to wander—deep into the mountains.

Lately, I’ve been in the haze of a rushed existence that leaves my eyes feeling they can’t focus on a thing. Too much technology, too many careening forays down the freeway. Too little sleep. I hate it when life becomes this jolting chase after something I can never catch. And then I marvel at the sense of kindling that comes over me when I walk out into the woods after deserting them for a while. An irrepressible freshness tingles in my veins, cools my face. The words of the Irish poet John O’Donohue came to me with his insistence that we humans need nature to keep the core of our souls alive. “How good,” he said in the interview The Inner Landscape of Beauty, “to wake up day after day to a world that is as much alive, if not more, than you.”

And all about me during my ramble, the earth glimmered, sang, ached with a liveness that struck life back into me. Maybe that’s what I feel so keenly is wrong with modernity, that so many of the substances that surround us are dead. Electronics, manufactured goods, house walls, carpet. We are so insulated from even the slightest touch of the breathing world. But that world is the place where our souls come alive, where we are thrust back into the rhythm of ever-advancing life, even amidst death. Of beauty in the face of decay.

Death is coming to the high fields now, cold is settling into the bones of the trees, but their spirits rise up, blazing into their leaves, unvanquished. We are a land of sun and moon in the autumn; the jeweled colors of fall are rare here, our landscape is one of serest gold, and polished silver. The aspens and cottonwoods sing out gold while the wind runs through them like water, turning over their leaves to where a silvered starlight has gathered. The trees ripple like a sunlit river, like rills in a mountain stream. The grass is plaited in wheaten loveliness, the last flowers grow pale in the chill, and I am rich with their beauty. That verse spoken by Peter came to my mind as I walked, though for me, in a slightly different version. Silver and gold, such as the world count them, have I none. But such as I have, sere fields, light like fresh butter, leaves in silver sheen, give I thee.

In the name of the Maker of it all, may your soul rise up. May your spirit walk abroad and be strengthened, and may you bear such treasures of light within yourselves.

Sarah Clarkson is the author of several books including the best-selling The Life-giving Home, which she co-authored with her mother, Sally Clarkson. Sarah is currently studying literature at Oxford University where she's not only a brilliant thinker and writer, but is also the president of the C. S. Lewis Society.


  1. Dieta

    I had occasion, once, to be in Telluride in October for the climax of the color of the aspens. It was years ago, and still one of the most majestic things I have ever had the glory to behold. Tennessee is beautiful, and I adore it, but there is something about those mountains that scream with the very breath of being alive. Thank you for talking about it so eloquently.

  2. Liz

    love the part, “I hate it when life becomes this jolting chase after something I can never catch.” I will slow down today and go out to the hills. Thanks for the elegant encouragement.

  3. Rob

    What a great post. The same line jumped out to me, about life becoming a chase after something I can never catch. I’m in that season right now, struggling to meet budget deadlines at work, sacrificing everything else to that end.

    Your words reminded me of annual whitewater rafting trips my wife & I used to take. Getting away from everything and truly immersing ourselves in God’s creation. We’re looking forward to taking our kids when they get a little older. Yet at the same time, hoping they never get a little older.

  4. Andrew Peterson



    I loved, loved this piece. I thought about it today as I drove through the hills near my house, this bittersweet beauty of autumn. Thank you for capturing it in words. It’s so nice to read sentences crafted with such care. Reminded me of Annie Dillard.


  5. Sarah

    Hello to all the Rabbit Room folks!

    My goodness, I’m glad as can be to find myself here. Thanks ever so much for the warm welcome and comments.

    Dieta- I have yet to make it to Telluride, one of those cases of not actually visiting what’s in one’s backyard. I’ll have to now.

    Amy- If you’re interested, there’s a great interview with O’Donohue at speakingoffaith.org

    And to the Proprietor- the Annie Dillard comparison made my day.

    Thanks you all!

  6. jeremy

    beautiful. my family lives in colorado springs…made me ache for home (and that’s never a bad thing). jb

  7. Adam Bennett

    Two things…


    More Please! 🙂

    I agree with Andrew. I love, love your writing. It’s like a song singing on the page.


  8. Shande

    Sarah, you have captured the essence of autumn so beautifully here, the “bittersweetness” as Andrew mentioned. Thank you!
    I too, hope to see more of your guest posts.

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