I often feel sorry for those that aren’t able to experience a season such as this. Autumn in a place like Collegeville, Minnesota is a breathtaking time. It is a feast for the senses, as leaves transform to magnificent splendor and the chill of a dark and dingy morning makes way for reflection. The warmth of flannel embraces all that you authentically are and all that you are about to become.
I live in a place where learning in so many forms takes place. Perhaps learning isn’t even the best word. For it is broader than that—broader than books and lectures, papers and exams. This campus, like so many others throughout this corner of the world is a place of formation.
The forming of possibilities.
I see in the undergrads that surround us here so much hope and potential, such a zeal for the possible. In their example I am reminded of days long gone, but also of possibilities that still lie ahead, even for those of us whose lives are quickly entering the second half of the game.
Yes, it seems that I’ve come to the autumn of life. That midway point where life once again comes into focus in a remarkable and sometimes uneasy way. It is a point where one realizes with humility how much there is left to do, how much has already been done. And it is a time to honor all those who have been a part of the journey, forming you along the way.
Autumn is that marvelous in-between, before the maturing warmth of winter and after the summer of youth and experiment. We reflect, we remember and we renew.
It is that time when we realize that this moment, this day and all that it brings, is enough. A time when we approach each moment with our authentic selves.
Richard Rohr appropriately calls this autumn of life a gift:
“It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.” No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.”
Once and for all and forever. What’s done is done, what is about to be will be. Let the leaves fall, enjoy the colors and embrace the chill of the air.