Editor's Note: Joe gave the "Study" talk on my weekend, Trenton 71. I will never forget that talk and Joe.
Now that my wife has taken up residence with the Lord, I live with my daughter Barbara and son in law. Allan. They have a large piece of property and I have become the self appointed groundskeeper. With twenty four giant oak trees on the premises raking leaves in the Fall is a gargantuan project. You might say I'm the 'fall guy'.
Raking has afforded me the opportunity to mourn, pray, and reminisce, while all the time raking leaves. I pander to a little amusement, “I'm finally 'big time now' I'm really raking it in.” Yes I pray, why not I have the occasion? While partnered with nature I am inclined to the natural, the supernatural and unexpected, But I ask a contemporary question like should I be wearing my “Life Alert”? I see the birds and for no solid reason old phrases come to mind. “Birds of a feather flock together”. I muse birds are smarter than humans; they fly south for the winter! Then, “He who hesitates fails”, yeah, but he gets another crack at it! Questions come to mind. why is it now that I'm very old I've begun to boast about it?
I'm asked if“the road in my life was bumpy”? My retort is, “I remember when the roads were cobblestones.” Another question is, “How far back can you remember”? Response: “I remember when Charles Lindberg flew across the Atlantic Ocean”. We sang: “Lucky Lindyup in the sky, lucky Lindy flying so high”.
Ah yes, back to the leaves; they hover, drift and float earthward. They resemble dangling feathers until they are jostled by the wind. As the velocity of the wind increased the brightly colored floaters are remodeled to angry swirling frenzied missiles. I meditate ….....the leaves transition from tender life eager buds of Spring time to radiant colored, but lifelessness in Autumn. I envisage the rabbits,squirrels and deer that share the terrain and conclude that Providence provided me this opportunity to reflect. I have really,finally become “old”. Raking leaves was granting me the time to adjust to this unfamiliar status. What disturbs me the most........is the realization that I have become irrelevant.
These innocent looking leaves are not as simplistic as they may appear. To execute its role the leaf must contain chlorophyll, pigments and carbon dioxide to create oxygen. Have water and provide carbohydrate to the the tree.What a contradiction that these unpretentious appearing leaves should possess such complexity. Now having their energy spent all I discern is discarded falling leaves. But, a melody begins running through my mind......”The leaves of brown came tumbling down, remember in September, that September in the rain.” Which triggered, “It ain't gonna rain no more no more, It ain't gonna rain no more. How in the heck am I gonna wash my neck? When it ain’t gonna rain no more.” Then “Barney google, with the goo goo googly eyes” Old fashioned gems, they just don't write songs like those anymore!
The cessation of human life generally doesn’t end like that of a spent leaf. Our life's end is accompanied with visitations, flowers, religious ceremony and topped off with a delicious repast. Reasoning nudged my mind into restfulness.
The end time for man and vegetation is not identical, the leafs conclusion is at the end of the year, when they begin to fall. Newleaves will return, but man shakes hands with eternity. Quizzical isn't it that sober, uncomfortable thoughts like the finalresting-places of the aged, and their spirit is brought to mind while raking leaves?
At summers end the clouds thicken yet the sun determinedly penetrates. The grisly raised his furry head and sniffed the air sensing theapproach of winter and hibernation. I too incline my head and mind. My senses sniff arrival of sunless, leafless harsh inevitable winter. The leaves are so light that they sidle on their decent. The comparison of an inhospitable winter is incongruous with the friendliness which prevails during the raking of leaves.
I perceive nothing audible, unless leaves floating are audible. The swishing of wings from birds winging by produce something slightly audible. However, no man, as pragmatic as he pro-ports to be,........ relies on organisms........ he puts his trust upon his revered non audible silent prayers. The leaves are hardly heard, but they are heard to the same extent men are heard , when they gently alight to their final resting place.
Raise up your gaze and witness leaves falling in meek surrender to destiny. A pageantry of color, red, yellow and brown, an unusual combination! The recognition of life waning intrudes on my thoughts. The trees are relinquishing their memories. The spring when it comes will replenish the leaves, but not restore those rich and abundant recollections of what was taken for granted. It is in such a state of mind of reproduction and of accomplishment that the dead leaves fall. The profoundness and substance of such genesis are beyond my limitations. Yet I am aware that each leaf is distinct and so are we. And all this from raking leaves?
It is curious, that at this distinct time of the year while raking leaves Providence has allowed me to to inquisitively contemplate the relationship between nature and humankind.
Some conclusions remained unsubstantiated, but the subject of destiny was explored.
These self observations are appropriate at autumn time, most pensive mortals perceive them. The air is noticeably different and yet the same; the morning hints of a gradual turnover heralding subtle messages of a waning irretrievable span of time.
The evenings kindle thoughts of family, sweetheart, contentment, and the comfort of home. The musing acting like a stimulus quickening the mingling with human sensitivities and prepare me for a greater glory.
It is in this setting that at the arrival of autumn, that Divine doctrine has deposited itself. A sentinel poised at the gate of the season, the guardian; and at its close the day I rejoice. I am assured of this: the Prince of Darkness grieves when I am raking leaves.