Monday, October 17, 2011


Wispy Autumn Sky, Jamestown, NC
Shepherd of the Forest, Jamestown, NC
Free Falling Autumn Spirit,Summerfield, NC

There is a sense of changing seasons in the air today. Yellow, orange and scarlet colors filter the sunlight rays that pierce through the woodlands to provide a subtle aura that subconsciously alerts us that change is imminent. The Autumn sky is patterned by high flying wispy cirrus clouds. The sun’s rays only project warmth if you’re in their direct path due to the cool ambient temperature. The winds are gusting in advance of a weather front that’s triggering cold rain showers in its wake off to the west.

The trees have already begun a transformation to shut down the growing process for the year. Leaves high overhead have been deprived of the life giving chlorophyll that facilitates the green growth of these ancient shepherds of the forests that the middle earth people knew as Ents.

The final adventure begins ever so slowly with a quickening crescendo that finally attracts the attention of even the casual observer. One by one the colorful spirits are loosed from their moorings and they begin a silent and graceful free fall in the autumn winds. Whole formations take flight at once and swoop down on unsuspecting travelers, swirling all around them in sudden bursts of energy. And then they settle to the ground below that has been just out of reach ever since they evolved. There was never a longing to reach skyward, for that was their environment from inception. But there was a longing to be among all the creatures below and possess their exhilarating freedom of movement. It seemed the shackles of the tree limbs could never be broken.

And then one recent night the temperature suddenly dropped below anything they had ever experienced. There was a stirring of retreat and letting go within all the branches that remained deathly still on that fateful night of a full harvest moon. The life giving sap was withdrawing from all the extremities and slowly moving to the center of the giant Ent’s core and further down to the very roots embedded in mother earth. The colony of veined leaflets swayed and fluttered in the morning breezes and the experience only heightened their desire for freedom. Now at last their release was assured as they watched in wonder as their fellow captives were released from the bonds of the giant Ents that no longer required their services. The free fall was glorious! It seemed to last much, much longer than in reality, but the experience was so long in coming and the anticipation was so extreme that the moment was absolutely sublime.

When these colorful free falling spirits finally touched the good earth, pure joy abounded among them. They gathered in great bands and rapidly joined together in powerful wind gusts to race down paved streets and along banked gutters. The very high spirited among them raced onto the freeways, attempting to outrun the speeding vehicles in a scene reminiscent of the running of the bulls. Some were eventually gathered into huge piles where small children were free to smother and embrace them in gales of laughter. Others glided onto the surface of rapidly moving streams of water and were carried for days on a journey into the vast oceans. Ultimately the matter that had been drawn from the earth mother by the symbiotic Ent to sustain and grow the leaf spirits began to return to its source in anticipation of another cycle of growth and resurrection.

For man, the autumn season is a time for gathering. But for nature, it is a time for scattering. And it’s been written that the true measure of a man’s life is not about how much he gathers for himself, but how much he caringly scatters among others to resurrect their lives. Perhaps that’s the reminder we all were meant to experience every autumn when the colorful emancipated spirits of autumn gracefully glide around us. Or, the lesson may be even more allegorical. Human souls are inextricably connected to our bodies and are spiritually informed as long as the body actively thrives on this planet. And as with the autumn spirits, we must die to this life so that our spirit may be set free to soar into the next.

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