Thursday, November 19, 2009


The Liquid Ambers in our front yard are turning. The color of the leaves change daily, turning from summer's green to yellow, orange, and scarlet. They are also decreasing in number, with more and more of the blue sky visible from beneath the tree's branches. The thin veins of blue which once framed the crowded green leaves grow wider, until, with winter, they will become the thing framed, held like large fragments of blue glass set into a molding of bony branches.
Everything in this temporal world turns. Seconds turn to minutes, and minutes turn to hours. Summer turns to fall. Milk turns in the refrigerator. We turn pages and corners. We advance, we move on. We progress, and sometime regress, but still move forward, even with a U-turn, the linear motion of our journey is always forward in time. Towards.
We encourage our children to take turns. My youngest daughter just turned eight. We turn eighteen. Twenty one. Thirty. Fifty.
One of the comforting things about Autumn is knowing that the Winter it introduces will in turn introduce another Spring. The cycle of the seasons lets us visit the stark emptiness of naked trees, the old age metaphor of winter landscapes, the hint of natural death, and consider there our own mortality. Then, when we've had enough of rain and melancholy, the days begin to lengthen, the green leaves return and nests are rebuilt. We color eggs and sing Allelluia. We turn our clocks forward.
In his poem Birches, Robert Frost gave us the image of a boy climbing a birch tree towards heaven, knowing that when he reached the tree's top, his weight would bend the trunk down, giving him a swinging ride back to earth, to life. Frost's narrator liked to ponder the end of things, when the days made him weary, when the world was too much, but he wasn't ready to commit to death. He just wanted a time share there. A place of rest and release from the concerns of life, arrived at with a round trip ticket.
Last night at bedtime, my middle child sadly told me that she wished that she could have parents forever. I realized she was troubled by a nine year old's consideration of mortality. I told her that she did have her mom and dad forever. She quickly added that she didn't mean in heaven, she meant here. I assured her that forever meant forever. I would always be her Daddy. I told her that "here" wasn't forever. The room, the house, the sky above it, was in forever, but it wasn't forever. Our forever had to fit into a forever place. The forever place was the really real place. The really real place where we find God. We would always be together in that really real way.
Our kids feel the turning. The sound of the earth's relentless axis calls to them as it calls to us. It challenges us. It motivates us. Sometimes it worries us. Keeps us awake. That's when we can turn to our wise and loving and unchanging God who sees beyond the mirage of sickness, age and earthly death, who sees beyond all of our turning seasons. A God who holds us at this moment in the really real time that is His true time. Let us ever and without hesitation turn to Him.
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