The Autumn Leaves

Autumn comes late to the South.  But it is here, now, with cooler temperatures, finally.  We'll still have some warm days, but the tide has finally turned, it seems.  Soon we'll hear old winter's song.

Autumn signals visually and emotionally the coming of the end of the year, too, and I often find myself in a reflective mood as the leaves change and begin to fall.  Where has the year gone?  What have I accomplished?  What do I have stored up to get me through the bleaker days ahead?

What comes to mind over and over again is the mystery of relationship.  The mystery of how people move in and out of circles of the various other people in their lives, and how they carry with them the music, the poetry, the challenges, the comforts, the insights they have made or heard or felt together.  We have our families, friends, co-workers, clubs, sports or bridge partners, the people at the grocery or drug stores and we move among them, picking up information and sometimes inspiration here and there.  And then we carry that inspiration and information to the next place we go.  And, like germs, we spread it all around.  Sometimes without our knowing it.  Sometimes without their knowing it.  Either/or, both/and.

Visually, what I am thinking about is like dropping a rock in a pond.  One does this, and the action makes a circle of ripples, and we do not know where or how many shores those ripples will finally break upon.  

Once several years ago, while I was in seminary, I had the experience of running into an acquaintance from church somewhere, and she told me that she had just enrolled in a graduate program at an Ivy League university.  I expressed joy and admiration for this move and she shocked me by telling me that I had inspired her to do it.  This truly shocked me.  I was attending seminary in my own home town and she was going to be flying off to the Northeast to start a rigorous program in finance or something unfathomable to me; it hardly seemed comparable.  But she said, she had thought she was too old (she's about my age) and then realized that one is never too old to follow one's dream, and so off she went.

Inspiration is a beautiful mystery.  This is my hope for the days ahead, to remember that truth.