A poem written by Joyce Rupp, which I have adapted and added to, based on the concepts in Joyce’s chapter on autumn in her book ‘May I have this dance?’
To constant accompaniment of birdsong
The leaves fall down
From wide oak and high ash
They twirl to the ground,
Dancing the autumn death dance
Beneath the great blue sky.
The leaves seem glad at the going
(Is there something I don’t know?)
Sparkling in the mellow sunlight
Their gentle rustling filling the air
One, then another and another
On they skim down from above
Bedding the forest floor before me
With comforting crunches as I step
This gigantic sea of dying leaves
Does not smell of sorrow or sadness
Rather the earth is ringing with joy
As the leaves make music in the wind.
It is not a dull grey scene
But one bursting with colour
And with beauty
If you have eyes to see it.
Why is this dance of death so lovely?
Why do the leaves seem so willing to go?
They don’t want to hang on to the bitter end
To be broken down and discoloured
They want to be released
Shortly after the fullness of summer.
The leaves are subtle reminders
That we are asked to let go
To be thankful for what’s gone before
To release with love
And to find peace
Even in the face of death.
Nothing is wasted in nature
The fallen leaves generously give
Life and nourishment
To the new growth
Just as we who remain living
Can draw goodness
From all that those departed gave us
If we nourish that goodness
It can bring growth in us.
Autumn is a season of death
But also a time of thanksgiving
For the abundant harvest that’s been.
Winter then brings times of quiet reflection
Clarity and stark beauty
And both pave the way for the new life
And new growth of Spring.