Fall is coming. Death is in the air. You can feel it when the wind howls through the tree branches. Smell it on the breeze. Mold. The scent of decay. Leaves have already started to drop from some of the trees, even though a few late blooming flowers still provide nectar for the hard-working bees. Birds congregate. Talking in excited squawks and squeals about their upcoming journey south. It rains more frequently, as if the sky is crying tears while mourning what is lost and grieving what lies ahead. The earth seems to sigh in sadness and with great regret.
It’s cool enough most nights to need a sweater. And the high temperatures of the day do not rise anymore into an unpleasant range. Sweat is a thing of the past.
The days are already significantly shorter. Darkness consumes the light earlier with every revolution of the sun. And gives it back later. Optimism fades in the waning sunlight. Suddenly, light is in short supply and we are all the worse for it.
Headlights (those that aren’t automatically turned on and off for us) are again in use each morning. Extinguished later, at times when they would have been unneeded but days before. Indoor fixtures are required earlier each evening. They provide our only illumination during darkening times. In this season, we never have enough light by which to see. No matter how many lamps we switch on or bulbs we install, the night presses in from all sides. Presses heavily and persistently.
When one is in the spring or summer of their life, while there is a dislike for the infringing darkness, there is also knowledge that the season can’t fully penetrate the soul. The cold may be hard to bear, but when one is young, when there is so much ahead and so little behind, the temporary inconvenience of fall and winter are not an unbearably heavy burden. Life will go on. The flowers will bloom again. Trees will bud and leaves will unfurl once more. There will come a point when the light again overcomes the darkness and the sun will warm our face and bones.
But when this season of impending darkness is also the season of our life, the season where we currently reside, it is not so easy to forgive or endure. Hope does not flow within us like a mighty river at this frightening stage. It’s more like a fragile spring that can easily run dry if not continually nurtured and diligently protected. The lack of light echoes our lack of time. It is a constant reminder our own brief moment is quickly fading. Running out. At some point, we will slip into the deep darkness of an unending winter, never to awake.
The world will continue; spring, summer, fall, winter. Season after season. But at some point, our eyes will not see it. Our bones will not feel the warmth of life returning. The sun will no longer bring a smile to our face or hope to our heart. We will become a part of the night. And leave this place behind.
Wherever and whatever lies ahead exists in some other dimension beyond our earthly comprehension or imagination.
My prayer is this new reality will not be one in which we suffer and carry agony within us that can’t be shed or resolved. My prayer is that it will be a place of sunshine and unending summer. A place without seasons. Where darkness has been banished, our tears have already been cried, our broken hearts have miraculously been mended, our wrinkled bodies have been astonishingly restored, made strong and perfect. Oh, how I pray it will be a gentle place. A place where all my beloved dogs, those who have slipped away before me and the two who sleep on my lap now, will be waiting for me with wiggles that can’t be contained as they jump for joy at the sight of me.
I have no hope left for this world. I’m perched on the edge of a long, trying winter and winter holds little good, nor brings many joyful moments. What I worked for in this place where I’ve existed for more years than I can grasp, will never be realized. I fought the darkness, but the darkness won.
My only hope now is that death will never come to call on a breeze in that new dimension. I hope I will never smell its smell again. I pray eternity will be far sweeter, kinder and gentler than this world has ever been. And that once the leap is made from time to timelessness, all the burdens, brokenness, hopelessness, hurt and darkness will finally be left far behind. Forever past. That the sun will always burn in a beautiful blue sky. That the breezes will always be gentle and filled with light and life. That the flowers will never go dormant. And that the dark of night, anguish and death will be a vague, fading memory. One that tickles my mind, but that I can’t quite recall. No matter how hard I try.