Nowadays, many parts of the world refer to ‘The Fall’ rather than ‘Autumn’ which is easily understood as it is the time when trees shed their leaves after they change from greens to rich oranges, yellows and reds. The origin of the word is uncertain but there is an Old French word ‘autumpne’ from the Thirteenth Century, possibly meaning ‘the drying up season’! Maybe some people feel it is the time when the sap starts to sink but it is actually a remarkably positive time both in nature and in life. Harvests are gathered in from Summer’s growth, celebrations are had and beautiful colours indicate that maturity has been reached. This is a season when over 150 million people celebrate ‘Halloween’ in America, children pay ‘Conkers’ (with seeds from Chestnut Trees), there are Harvest Festivals and bonfires in Britain. In Germany, people collect nuts, making crafts out of them and fly their kites with the strong winds that bring the leaves down. The French get very excited about this mushroom-picking season, but caution is needed for every year there are some 1,000 poisonings caused by mushrooms like this tempting ‘Amanita Muscaria’, the iconic red toadstool associated with fairies and the occult. This is often poisonous or hallucinogenic but is sometimes eaten when boiled in parts of Europe, Asia and North America. Various fruits still come in the Autumn but it is important to discern whether they are good or bad.
- ‘Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower’ – Albert Camus
- ‘Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn’ – Walter Scott
- ‘Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day’ – Elizabeth Bowen
- ‘Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns’ – George Eliot
Many will have fond memories of harvests gathered in Autumn – Apples, Potatoes, Raspberries, Figs, Pumpkins, Broccoli, Sprouts, Grapes, Celery, Parsnips, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Hazelnuts, Sweet Chestnuts, Dahlias and Chrysanthemums to name but a few. These flavours, sights and smells are reminders of the old Harvest Festivals when grateful farmers would donate the best of their produce for a Thanksgiving Service. Anyone who has entered a church building set out for one of these services would recall the powerful aromas of crops and flowers that perhaps have more impact than cans of vegetables and dried foods. Be that as it may, either were tangible expressions of thanks as these were then shared out among the needy. The traditional hymn would be sung: ‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s Almighty hand’. Supermarkets and on-line shopping have increased the distance from crop to stomach to praise. Yet the farmer’s job is never done for ploughing and sowing must follow quickly on. Surprising as it may seem, much sowing also happens in Autumn – Broadbeans, Onions, Garlic, Spinach, Asparagus, Lambs Lettuce, Carrot, Pak Choi, Squash and Winter Wheat (with a higher yield than Spring Wheat).
- ‘Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you – Hosea 10:12
- ‘Sluggards do not plough in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing. The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out’ – Proverbs 20:4-5
- ‘The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God’ – Galatians 5:19-21
- ‘For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God’ - Colossians 1:9-10
If you are in the Autumn of life, then why not take a tour of your garden to check the state of the ground, whether it needs ploughing and to search out any bad fruit that can sometimes rear its ugly head in this season. We are called to bear good fruit and in this mature time of life, there can be some harmful ‘toadstools’ that may pop up and multiply if we tolerate them – bad fruits and roots need to be dealt with. Here are nine that you might come across in those of mature years: disillusionment, bitterness, unforgiveness, melancholy, ‘mid-life crisis’, negativity, grumpiness, moaning and a critical spirit. The child of God is given grace for this kind of tough gardening and can give all the more glory through yielding to God to become more like Christ Jesus, going on to bear the beautiful nine-fold fruit of the Holy Spirit.
- ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’ – Galatians 5:22-23
- ‘“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”’ – John 15:1-2
- ‘For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you’ – Romans 12:3
Amazingly, we are called God’s fellow-workers and urged ‘not to receive God’s grace in vain’ (1 Corinthians 6:1). It is therefore the wise who decide to cooperate even in the autumn of life for a bigger and better harvest. It’s time to yank out those red toadstools, sweep the leaves, give thanks for good fruit, then keep up with the ploughing and sowing as we prepare for the final season.
TAGS – recycle, transformation, fertility, fruit, multiply, multiplication, sin, repentance