on “going autumn”

Out in the yard, I found a self-planting maple weed. It’s a maple tree growing where I’m never going to let a maple grow.

Usually I pull them without a second thought. This one caught me by surprise, however, because it had turned red.

There it was, a maple only two inches tall, with only two tiny leaves, and the whole thing had turned red.

I was surprised, but really it’s only doing what maples do: first by planting itself wherever it found purchase, and secondly by turning red once autumn came.

All around my yard, the trees have turned. There’s a good mixture of green, a lot of yellow, a tiny bit of orange, some red, and too much brown. Every day I pass trees gone spectacular, and shortly afterward, they become trees gone bare. It’s a sign of winter.

Jesus said in Mark that when you see certain signs in the plants or the earth, you get other cues about the weather and the harvest. And even though I make dumb jokes about it, here we have a non-mystery: winter is coming.

I wonder how much we can spread this idea around.

At the end of its natural lifespan, does the human soul do something like a tree turning autumn colors? Does the soul as it reaches the end of the days God appointed for it begin to blossom or change in ways we can’t see, but which are perceptible to the spirit? Not colors, obviously, since the soul is intangible and invisible. But is there a way in which we humans “go autumn”?

And is that part of the process by which we die, a natural letting go the same way that the leaves then let go of their branches?

The next thought is, someone dying early or suddenly wouldn’t have had the time to “go autumn” and maybe that makes death tougher. No final preparation. No leaves loosening from their branches. No nut pulling away from its husk, or a fruit loosening on its stem.

No answers here, just some musings as I sit among the leaves waiting for my daughter to come home on the school bus.


  1. Heartstar1

    Tabris, I’ve gotta say, I’m not a particularly religious person, but your posts are so wonderfully written and thought-provoking – I really enjoy reading them.

    In the southern hemisphere, in Australia, we’re just coming into Spring, and my garden is just “waking up” from the long Canberra winter. The colours here are amazing.

    Maybe this reminds us of the concept of balance, as designated by God, the Universe, etc. When one part of the world is shutting down for winter, another part of the world is gearing up for summer. And in 6 months time, it’ll be the other way around…

  2. Christine (aka Oxymoroness)

    I dunno … when my FIL passed, in retrospect I saw his “autumn.” He was thinking more deeply about God, his soul, his life. He talked about subjects that he previously wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. But then too, he knew he had cancer and very well could die (and did about 2.5 years in). So he had some warning.

    But then too, I think that that’s one of those questions that only God and the person could answer.

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