I finally got a hike in yesterday.
I was worried I was too late. I’d been hoping for some rich autumn color, but a few wicked thunderstorms had stripped a good many trees of their leaves already. The blazing crimson of the season had already passed; what remained was gold. I hoped there’d be something left.
And was there ever.
Everything was golden when I arrived at the ridge, every treetop gilded and sun slanting in through their narrow trunks. The sight reminded me of a passage in The Lord of the Rings that describes the elven realm and forest Lothlórien:
That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof…
In the book, Lothlórien exists as one of the few pure places left on earth: a dwelling that bears the stamp of another world and remains a fragment of what once was better and far more beautiful.
Unlike that mythical forest, my little ridge isn’t enchanted and the leaves do fall, but even their fall was beautiful. As I walked, bits of gold drifted lazily down from above. It was quiet. It felt, indeed, like another world: a reminder of what once was. And it made me marvel at the kind of God we have.
What a world, where leaves break out in riotous color before they tumble down and fade away. And every year this happens with new leaves: what we see from one autumn to another is always inherently unique. Our God has granted us a world, even in our fallenness, where every single year new batches of leaves transform into gold and scarlet and tangerine before they tumble down. Where little scraps of gold fall down from above. Where all these colors exist against that particular aching-blue sky that is unique to this one season.
It’s so extravagant. Unnecessarily so. And it reminds me of the premise of Timothy Keller’s Prodigal God, which is that God is reckless and wild and ridiculous with His abundant love. That “good enough” is never enough for Him. That in spite of all our stubbornness and stupidity, our ignorance and backbiting and willfulness, He wants to give us these things: over and over and over again.
Autumn is my favorite season. For a lot of people, I know, it’s a season of chores: raking the leaves, preparing the house for winter, fretting over Thanksgiving menus and meal plans. But please take a moment, if you can, to simply stop and look around before it passes you by. In a world where all of our material goods are disposable, replaceable, and valued in dollars, the brilliant surrender of the world to winter – a transformation of color whose beauty exceeds any practical purpose – is a valuable gift that tells us a lot about the Creator, His delights, and His nature.
P.S. The photo on this post is “my” ridge. I’m including another one below. (These photos belong to me and Samaritan’s Song. Please do not reproduce elsewhere in any form without my express permission.)