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St. Francis

The autumnal coolness—just on the edge of the dying summer—is in the air, and it feels good. Very cool, very refreshing against my face. The leaves are just starting to turn color, and the smell of dust lingers in the air.

October has always fascinated me. For all of my life, I can remember the great anticipation I held for October, the most mysterious of months, a month that hovers—at least in my imagination—between life and death. If Spring is birth and Summer is full life, October represents the necessary path to death. It is a Purgatory that leads to either heaven or hell.

Understood properly, October purges us of our follies and reminds us that death hovers just in front of us. It reminds us that we always stand in time, but at the very edge of eternity. Sometimes, we peer over the edge into the abyss, and sometimes we glimpse the glories of the heavenly realm. But, we always stand on the precipice of eternity, moments and steps away from true reality. Any moment and any step can lead to eternal glory or eternal damnation.

And yet, October is still more…and less…than any of this. The weather cools, the leaves change in color and form, the temperature drops, and I don’t have to mow the grass as often. I see the hunters in their odd mixture of florescent orange and tan, green, and grey camouflage walking on the highways with their guns in hand, ready to be discharged should some four-legged creature appear within eyesight. They carry about them a look of grizzled intensity. They smell blood. They hunger for it.

I see the lumbering yellow public school buses picking up the children, restless with anticipated boredom. At the end of their journey, they will be dehumanized, demythologized, filled with meaningless facts, prepared for life in artificially-lighted cubicles and boxes.

I always feel the changes physically in the air, but it is certainly more than this. Attitudes change, becoming more brisk and serious. Life, or its immanent end, takes on new meaning. The creatures of the earth begin to store their food and hoard items to keep them warm and comfortable during the winter.

Perhaps they are guided by the gentle whispers of a Franciscan.

In this, they seem wise.

The autumnal coolness—just on the edge of the dying summer—is in the air, and it feels good. Very cool, very refreshing against my face. The leaves are just starting to turn color, and the smell of dust lingers in the air.

St. Francis, pray for us.

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1 reply to this post
  1. I, too, love October. The yellow buses drop the kids off at my school. Some of them, the sophomores, come to my class. We are reading The Hobbit. We’ve just said goodbye to Beorn and his life-teeming compound–full of milk, bread, honey, and flowers–and are now entering Mirkwood. Autumn is setting in, and Bilbo, frightened and hungry beneath the dense forest canopy, dreams of harvest season in the Shire. The western sun is so bright that I shut off the fluorescent lights. Fair-weather clouds race across the sky. My students are happy. I am happy. St. Francis has interceded for us.

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