It is Indian summer–seventy degrees in November! It is the perfect day for a late afternoon walk. We shake off the lessons and drills and head for the woods.
It is a quiet outing–no buzz of insects or lawnmowers. We share the time learning the vocabulary of the forest: moss, lichen, oak, maple, evergreen, deciduous. We count the annual rings of a fallen pine, then we count a cluster of slender needles: “A needle for each letter–W-H-I-T-E.”
Yes it is quiet in the woods today, and it is also a bit monochromatic. The enchantment of our New England autumn has so quickly turned to a faded brown–this fixed vicissitude of season. The leaves have mostly fallen, but a few stubborn ones remain, unconvinced of the coming cold. They are waiting for abscission, as botanists say, when scars will pull them away from branches that no longer offer life.
Yet hidden below these weary leaves, tight little buds will form. And they will wait, still and quiet, until the warmth of May.
There is bright hope in this for those of us who live in the north country. We learn to embrace the stark beauty of a bare tree, its branches silhouetted against a winter sky. But we long for the verdant clothing of spring.
Today I was reading a word from the prophet who wept, a man who longed with hope for restoration. He writes:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Winter is coming, yet I think of the “eternal green” promised for those who trust in the Lord. Trust, that word that sounds so easy on paper, but is so hard to do when life lacks resolution. Jeremiah’s words are a sweet prayer for my own heart today. Oh that my fears and anxieties would melt away as I learn to trust, and that my small and simple life would bear eternal fruit.