It’s not really fair. There’s so much press given to the others. Spring gets all the joy and newness poetry, Summer’s inevitably associated with good long holidays, and Winter, while it’s often painted as a bit dreary, has a monopoly on Christmas carols, at least. What happened to Autumn?
Ok, so there are a few songs (if you look hard enough in one of those old ‘Family Favourites’ songbooks) about Autumn Leaves and Autumn in New York, but that’s about it. It’s like the forgotten season. And rightly so, you may be thinking – after all, what on earth happens during autumn? Most of the plants die and it gets colder. That’s about it. And over here in Australia, the gum trees even stay a stubborn green, not having the decency to go a respectable orange, which our North American sisters were horrified to find out.
I would like to propose that Autumn be given good press – for once! – because all the seasons have something special about them, and when you get down to fundamentals, the reason we have seasons is because the good God made it that way and wanted to show us a little hint of Himself through them.
First of all, the meaning of Our Lord’s “A little while and you shall not see Me, and again a little while and you shall see Me” resonates just that bit more when the flowers are saying farewell until spring, and the warm summer breezes are fading away. The now-chilly nights help us relate to the Apostles after the Ascension, when they were all huddled together in that Upper Room, feeling lonely and unsure.
But the Southern Hemisphere’s reversal of seasons means that we get Pentecost in our trees (if you ignore the stubborn green gums, of course!) Providentially, maples take to the soil very well around here, so we’re not completely destitute of the autumn colour experience – here’s proof!
And the fact that the red leaves crinkle up and drop off reminds us that the same thing happened to the tongues of fire. The Apostles only got to see them for a short while. But the most important part is that they were changed men for what had happened. They let God do His work within them, and so the Church was born. The little infant Church, whose Birthday really is Pentecost, after all, was very much like our plant-life in autumn and winter. There wasn’t much to see of the new Church, just like our threadbare trees in winter, and an awful lot of things had to die (think:martyrs) so that there could eventually be growth. So you can see that our autumn and winter are really very good reflections of what was happening to the Apostles and the early Church around Pentecost time and afterwards.
This season is also a gentle reminder of how we should be in our spiritual lives, too. While the trees are slowly dying, we could learn from them and die to ourselves that little bit more than we did last year, so that come Springtime, we can give more of ourselves to Him Who has, in actual fact, given us everything.
The strong autumnal winds, of which we made mention above, did bring their own special gift to us. As our resident expatriate Milduran postulant says, “When the north winds blow, the gremlins grow!” And grow they did. Part of the house was transformed into a cold-and-flu ward for a few days, and here I’d like to say thank you to the kind person who was moved to donate us lemons, because this place was turned into a veritable honey-and-lemon-drink factory in a bid to triumph over the nasty viruses. It looks like we’re just about there; we finally had a full complement of sisters at recreation again last night! This is larg
ely thanks to the well sisters (affectionately called the ‘wellies’, as opposed to the ‘sicklies’), who became nursing sisters for a few days, and I must say, as a ‘sickly’, did a terrific job. Thank you, sisters!