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St. Francis

The autumnal coolness—just on the edge of the dying summer—is in the air, and it feels good. Very cool, very refreshing against my face. The leaves are just starting to turn color, and the smell of dust lingers in the air.

October has always fascinated me. For all of my life, I can remember the great anticipation I held for October, the most mysterious of months, a month that hovers—at least in my imagination—between life and death. If Spring is birth and Summer is full life, October represents the necessary path to death. It is a Purgatory that leads to either heaven or hell.

Understood properly, October purges us of our follies and reminds us that death hovers just in front of us. It reminds us that we always stand in time, but at the very edge of eternity. Sometimes, we peer over the edge into the abyss, and sometimes we glimpse the glories of the heavenly realm. But, we always stand on the precipice of eternity, moments and steps away from true reality. Any moment and any step can lead to eternal glory or eternal damnation.

And yet, October is still more…and less…than any of this. The weather cools, the leaves change in color and form, the temperature drops, and I don’t have to mow the grass as often. I see the hunters in their odd mixture of florescent orange and tan, green, and grey camouflage walking on the highways with their guns in hand, ready to be discharged should some four-legged creature appear within eyesight. They carry about them a look of grizzled intensity. They smell blood. They hunger for it.

I see the lumbering yellow public school buses picking up the children, restless with anticipated boredom. At the end of their journey, they will be dehumanized, demythologized, filled with meaningless facts, prepared for life in artificially-lighted cubicles and boxes.

I always feel the changes physically in the air, but it is certainly more than this. Attitudes change, becoming more brisk and serious. Life, or its immanent end, takes on new meaning. The creatures of the earth begin to store their food and hoard items to keep them warm and comfortable during the winter.

Perhaps they are guided by the gentle whispers of a Franciscan.

In this, they seem wise.

The autumnal coolness—just on the edge of the dying summer—is in the air, and it feels good. Very cool, very refreshing against my face. The leaves are just starting to turn color, and the smell of dust lingers in the air.

St. Francis, pray for us.

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2 replies to this post
  1. I, too, love October. The yellow buses drop the kids off at my school. Some of them, the sophomores, come to my class. We are reading The Hobbit. We’ve just said goodbye to Beorn and his life-teeming compound–full of milk, bread, honey, and flowers–and are now entering Mirkwood. Autumn is setting in, and Bilbo, frightened and hungry beneath the dense forest canopy, dreams of harvest season in the Shire. The western sun is so bright that I shut off the fluorescent lights. Fair-weather clouds race across the sky. My students are happy. I am happy. St. Francis has interceded for us.

  2. Yes, I too love Autumn… I loved it in England, those early morning mists burnt off by the morning sun… the scents of bonfires, and blackberries, picking hazel-nuts from the hedgerows, finding silky, shining conkers and kicking up the rustling leaves, crackling them under my shoes…that sense of gentle melancholy, a poetic nostalgia for the last gentle days of sunshine…
    Later in Hongkong, the end of summer came quite suddenly in one day, when the light changed, and for a month or six weeks a light pervaded the harsh hectic city, and turned the island into a place of surpassing beauty, lit with mystical light I waited for those weeks every year
    And now in the antipodes, autumn is the best season of the year, long golden days and crisp nights,
    I live in a covenanted forest where the sun shines onto our mountain at dawn, and then as it rises over the valley, outlines every leaf with shining light, reminding me of Xerxes’ tree, when spellbound by the light of a sycamore, he halted his army rolling across the dusty plain, and ordered his goldsmith to make a medal of it, while he sat and marvelled at it for two days, and the army sat and puzzled for two days !

    (discovered this wonderful blog when I was trying to get into mine… I assume that the internet and some other magical source tipped into your blog because we had both used the same beautiful picture of St Francis… I am now about to explore your other blogs all with irresistible titles…)

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