Each drop of water
every falling leaf
constitutes a miracle.
Autumn days in New England bring cerulean blue skies splashed against red and orange leaves to form a patchwork of color blurred through the scented veil of woodsmoke.
Leafy stripes and plaids wrap hills and valleys in autumn’s brilliant fabric and seem to dye the landscape with impossible tints of vermillion and ochre and citron.
This one last flash of glory serves to deny the imminence of winter’s silvered grey. Exploding from a late summer start, autumn’s energetic colors sprint toward their seasonal finish line. Once there, they bring to us an awareness–kept at bay by spring’s potential and summer’s abundance—that all life will end. Red and orange will turn to brown. Cerulean blue will turn to silver. Sunshine slants thin and low in the sky.
Alone among life, human beings know that we will die. We are gifted with the capacity to understand the cyclical nature of earthly life. We see our children born and our parents die. We know that night follows day and that old age is the inevitable outcome of youth. This gift, this knowledge that life is fleeting, calls us to attend to each moment. Yet, careworn and human, we take for granted what should serve to energize and inspire. We ignore moments that call us to anoint and to rejoice.
How then, should we live our one holy and mysterious life? Is living and having to die a siren call for our attention or an invitation to stupor?
In times past, a people living in closer proximity to nature saw the world as a sacred place. Spirit lived everywhere and enlivened everything. The veil between this world and the next was thin. Leading people to a belief in signs and portents, as well as to a loving reverence for all of life, the ancient sacramental universe carried the taint of superstition by the time of the Enlightenment. Post Enlightenment, the universe was explained in ways concrete and rational. Scientific principles removed any hint of life’s holy mystery.
Still, seeing the mystery in each moment is easy once you decide to look. Who can explain kindness or love or bravery? Consider the nettle, the muskrat, the garden slug. Each contains the same holy and miraculous life. Awakening instills in our souls a deep reverence, and an even deeper gratitude, for life.
Awareness of life’s fragility, when combined with awakening to the sacred, brings us the gift of a life lived “all in”. We come to know ourselves as part of a finely woven fabric of living that urges us to hold nothing back. Releasing over-thinking and fear, we can embrace lives full of sacred experiences–lives plumbed deeply for their holy miracles.