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i. Signs and Wonders - Autumn


From the 14th century. The Old French word autompne and from the Latin word autumnus (autumn; autumn fruits, harvest; of autumn, autumnal). The usual word for ‘autumn’ until the 16th century was harvest.


‘When I said autumn autumn broke’ Elizabeth Jennings

Sky dreams the day - grey on grey. The way

early morning air dusts the outside

furniture with dew; and I close the wide

summer doors at six o'clock to stay

the draught of evening cold. Jennings

spoke years ago of Proust, birthday cakes

bonfires and smoke. Time locked within the ache

of seasons like a roll of film. Something

else recalls the long sun filled slide into

damp and cold. Yellow leaves in drifts of thick

bundles at corners of the house. Wet black

sticks of almond, fig and apricot. Few

reminders of the heat and dust. The click

of triggers after words watch as a season breaks.

Jeff Guess


From the southern window and my Manchurian pear to back fence the leaves are falling. Here just outside the door the ground is carpet thick with the most vibrant colours of ruby and gold to the subtle pastels of pink and salmon. The blood-red leaves on the glory vine almost hurt the eye and the yellow fire in the crab apple leaves are a blaze of glory.

Albert Camus the French novelist once said, Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. And Stanley Horowitz the American writer, Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. And of course the season reminds us of the continual flow of change the year brings in its turning. This little ‘death’ is only for a few grey, cold, wet months before the rebirth of new shoots and leaves in spring. But more than that it reminds us of our lives. Where we started from and where we return to season after season.

The Chinese have a lovely ancient proverb: Falling leaves return to their roots. This is obviously intended to work on several levels of meaning, in its most simplest perhaps the idea of calling a Chinese person who is travelling overseas back to their roots and home. For us today perhaps it can be seen as a very strong call back to what is important and fundamental in our own lives and those of others whom we love around us. Perhaps Elizabeth Lawrence, the American television actor was thinking about how important it is that we reflect on this season. Rather than taking time to smell the roses, she says, Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.

Reading: Hosea 6: 3b

He will come to us as sure as the morning comes. He will come to us like the autumn rains and the spring rains that water the ground. GW


for Autumn Days

God of the seasons, there is a time for everything; there is a time for dying and a time for rising. We need courage to enter into the transformation process.

God of autumn, the trees are saying goodbye to their green, letting go of what has been. We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk. Help us to let go when we need to do so.

God of fallen leaves lying in coloured patterns on the ground, our lives have their own patterns. As we see the patterns of our own growth, may we learn from them.

Prayer from St. Agnes Cathedral New York

©Jeff Guess 2017

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