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From my study window a soggy breeze weights a solitary leaf falling from the towering oak in my side yard and hurtles it toward the spent grass. Interminable moments pass until it is lodged within a muddy crevice, its bronzed face weeping, unattended, susceptible to even more desiccation.

Such begins autumn’s necessary stripping with its obvious parallels to human life—The outworn must give way to the new.

However, last July this truth imploded within my body as I lay on my dining room floor, my foot caught within the tubing of my vacuum cleaner. Howling pain bit chunks into my left shoulder, elbow, and hip. Unlike the solitary leaf, I needed help and fast.

It came: paramedics, surgery, rehab, physical and occupational therapy. Indeed, hundreds of helpers knocked on my door, each with their piece of the puzzle that would eventually restore me to wholeness.

Slowly, my body-mind-spirit began to knit through the prescribed exercises, that is, until mid-August when gnarly pain emerged in my hip. Multiple modifications of the stretches only worsened matters and I was back on pain medications. My suspicions mounted: the surgery had failed. I’m waiting to learn what will happen next.

 

 

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Splat! Upon my hood, winds shake raindrops from overarching maples. I stop in my tracks, the sleeves of my slicker glistening with wetness like tears filming the eyes of a new mother.

I am alone.

Ahead of me mounts the asphalt trail, stippled with leaves: greens, coppers, browns, and mustards, with snatches of scarlets—denuded by fall’s encroachment. There’s no stopping her. A solitary raven caws. I look up. Clouds hover over this wetness like a seasoned gardener mulching flowerbeds. A droplet disengages a shrunken leaf from its mooring and spins it to the forest floor littered with twigs and dried stems. Musk pulsates from every pore of this wetland.

Such seasonal stripping reminds me of grace, subtly detaching us from the outworn, that which no longer sustains our spiritual growth. We dare not ignore this imperative.

 

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Suddenly, frolicking breezes carry a disarming sweetness. I stop in my tracks, then move slowly toward the fragrance. What resembles a white lacy quilt has been tossed upon my neighbor’s tangled growth of paracantha bushes, their branches laden with clusters of orange berries. Honeybees alight upon the star-shaped blossoms and feed. It is quiet.

In the next block, more fragrance, more excited honeybees weave in and out of these blossoms bushing atop a cyclone fence enclosing a back yard. And still more blossoms in a wooded area down by the creek, slipping waters over the rock bed beneath overarching oaks and maples.

I delight in touching the feathery branches of these trailing vines of the clematis family, variously called the Virgin’s Bower or the Old Man’s Beard, the last resembling its appearance in winter. Their hearty growth in a single season, up to fifteen feet in height, springs from simple stalks that gardeners clip back each winter.

Sensuousness engulfs my soul and momentarily casts aside concerns of every stripe. Here there is harmony. All is well!

 

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