The autumn of life is a spectacular time. I read recently that whilst we’re young we learn and the older we get the more we apply that learning in the rubber-hitting-the-road sort of way.
Those of us entering midlife and the years beyond have exciting days ahead, for we have made it to the time when a deciduous process takes place in us, and hope imbues our cause to the enlightenment of our world and the people around us.
Deciduous trees, of course, shed their leaves in autumn as a sign of maturity—the tree getting rid of what it no longer needs, it takes with it only what will sustain itself through the approaching winter. Likewise, deciduous teeth make way for sturdier adult teeth.
There are many ways this image of deciduousness can be applied to faith.
è Approaching maturity—and by our forties we’re certainly (hopefully) getting there—we know what we can safely jettison; what is more of a hindrance to carry with us spiritually into the nether regions of life remaining. This is a wisdom activity we’ll commit to for many years to come.
è We don’t mourn those withering leaves and falling petals of immaturity as they fall from us. Sure, we recognise that winter is approaching and preparations need to be made. This in itself is a sign of maturity. Instead of mourning we quickly accept it, allowing even a modicum of fleeting reminiscing to take place—these, after all, are our memories. They’re there at our immediate disposal whenever we want them.
è The hardness of winter necessitates the block isolation of those things that might compromise the overall structure’s survival. By getting rid of the leaves, the tree focuses on what it needs to in enduring the upcoming season of cold’s harshness. We also—whilst we have the opportunity now—get rid of those character traits that will not sustain us long into our senior years.
è Winters are not just known as seasons of bleakness and discontent. They truly are marvellous vistas where the chilly winds and steeped cool mornings bring the message we’re alive—our senses attest to this. This is reminding and renewing us. A lot of life has gone behind; yet still, much stands ahead. And we stand hopeful in any event.
è We decide for the peaceful life as the dimmer light of winter begins gently rolling in. Reflective, we take the time we’ve always wanted to take, to appreciate and to marvel. After all, we couldn’t glean this much out of life when we were younger.
What a show we have for those younger, as we model how autumn is dealt with. We apply both a pleasantly austere approach and resilience of the years as we continue confidently leading the way, supporting those securing the mantles we’ll eventually lay down.
Autumn is not a time to shrink from, nor winter. These are times to be in full bloom spiritually as we remain, alive, having enjoyed some of the easier, learning times of the past.
Now is our place to show those going after us—those watching us and our approach to life—how to approach these challenging years with patient cheeriness and passionate gusto.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.