Contemplation

The Colors of Death

I love seasons. They tell stories of birth, life, tragedy, death, and resurrection. Fall is my favorite season. The weather cools, the light begins to change, and there’s something exciting in the air, like a whisper saying “just wait and see.”

Memphis in Fall is not a very exciting prospect. Most years it doesn’t get cold till November or December and even then it doesn’t get really cold till January, which means we don’t often experience real seasonal colors. This year our first cold snap came at the close of August; a sudden chilly week that drop kicked us straight into fall. It’s been mostly cold since then with a few warmer days here and there, and the trees have been infected with the colors of death.

I drove my husband to work on this not very cold Fall morning and admired the exhausted wine-red trees lining the street outside the pharmacy situated on the corner of Germantown and Dexter. A little farther down the road and a row of bright yellow Ginkgo trees made me feel as though decorations for a party were underway and I’d been let in on the secret. It got me thinking about colors. What are they there for? Would they mean anything to us without imagination? Do they tell a story?

The hues of red and orange and yellow that infect the trees and the grass at this Falling time of year appeal to my imagination, like a sort of dryad’s spirit urging me to sit up and take notice of the story it’s about to tell. It seems to me that Summer is a time of revelry, contentment, perhaps even oblivion. It’s easy to feel settled into the warm confidence of a Summer week with its ease and stability, not much unlike a person in their prime of life never expecting the hardships of age and the coming of their own Fall into death’s waiting embrace. On the other hand, like an aged saint ready for the next adventure, the Fall season is bursting with expectation!

Often we think only of the festive holidays and family gatherings in the heart of winter, but there’s a deeper meaning to Fall and Winter than we often give allowance for. There’s an allegory being written as the leaves begin their descent, and the cold frost begins to cover the ground as the warmth says goodbye.

The life begins to fade from the trees once so confidently vibrant, and I feel that dryad’s whisper warning me that there’s a story beginning to unfold. The excitement of the Falling year builds in the very air around me, and I begin to expect the cold, dark, bare claws of a dead Winter tree.

I think that death is a beautiful thing, because death isn’t the end. Along with the cold, dark, bare claws of a dead Winter tree comes the promise of new flowers, new life, and the new colors that accompany life. The wintry cold touch of death is nothing else then the purging of a broken and tired spirit, preparing to be reborn into the pure and innocent flowers of a resurrected body. Fall is an expectation of the celebration of death, so that Spring can come and life can prevail once more. Just so for the redeemed bride of Christ.

And so I’ll commune with these reds and oranges, yellows and browns, and do so in remembrance of His death, the Resurrector Himself.

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