A mini twister caught and spun deciduous leaves in a whimsical pattern—up, down, here, there and around again. I couldn’t help but take in the scene with fascination. First of all, Autumn is my favorite season; almost everything about Fall catches my attention, from the multi-hued color changes to the musty perfume of nature dressing up for a night out before her long and lonesome time to sleep. Then, too, there is the symbolism which seems ever-present to me: someday my life will end, like that of a leaf falling from a tree. Finally, I was heading to my regular confessor for the sacrament of reconciliation, and the promise of weighty guilt to be removed stirred my soul with a gust of hope in God’s mercy as it lifted my spirit with a mixture of agonizing ecstasy. The experience was almost mystical, reminding me of the chance encounter between Rat and Mole with the semi-deity, Pan, in The Wind in the Willows:
“On either side of them, as they glided onwards, the rich meadow-grass seemed that morning of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous, the mead-sweet so odorous and pervading. Then the murmur of the approaching weir began top hold the air, and they felt a consciousness that they were nearing the end, whatever it might be, that surely awaited their expedition.”
’…This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,’ whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. ‘Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!”
When two adventurers arrive in the presence of the embodied spirit of Nature, they are enthralled with awe:
“’…Rat! He found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’
‘Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid? Of Him? Oh, never, never! And yet – and yet – Oh, Mole, I am afraid!’”
Aside from the irony that I find myself turning to children’s literature rather than the worn pages of religious mystics to describe the mesmerizing numinous presence of the Almighty in Nature, Kenneth Grahame’s depiction delightfully sums up that feverish grip the Fall season has on my soul. I am utterly captivated by Divine Providence that never fails to induce hope, joy, peace and contentment when sought out with childlike innocence. What then will that great and terrible day be like when I, too, come into the Holy Presence afraid, yet (hopefully) not afraid, trembling with loving worship? Certainly something wonderful, beyond the power of nature to describe.