"For to me, to live
is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this
will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be
with Christ, which is far better." (Phil 1:21-24 NKJV)
I love Autumn here in the mountains of West
Virginia. The cool air and the hum of the heater in the morning soon
gives way to the warm breezes flowing through the window fans in the
afternoon. The delightful smell of dry leaves fills the air and in the
evening I can sometimes catch glimpses of the deer feeding on the fallen
apples from the apple tree in our backyard. The sound of happy children
riding their bikes makes a sweet music for the ears as they play away
the evening hours until darkness arrives. All of this wonderful joy
takes place too under the brilliance of the mountains themselves. This
time of the year they look like they were painted by Heaven’s hand. Bit
by bit the leaves on the trees transform into glorious golds, radiant
reds, and outrageous oranges. Beautiful burgundies and browns soon
appear too, as well as yellows that shine like the sun itself. This time
of the year always gives me a hint of what Paradise itself must be like.
It really amazes me then that the phrase "the Autumn of our lives" is always said with such fear. The very mention of it stirs up images of aging, illness, and approaching death. I guess so many are afraid of that last leaf falling that they fail to see the beautiful Spring that awaits them.
I think the Autumn of your life should instead be embraced with joy. It should be the peak of a beautiful, colorful, and well-lived life. It should be full of choosing love, sharing happiness, and helping others. It should be filled with making yourself a better person and the world a better place. It should be overflowing with peace, understanding, and oneness with God.
May the Autumn of your life then shine as brightly as the leaves on these mountains. May you live simply, love deeply, and grow daily. May your last days be your best days. And may you walk through the fallen leaves knowing that the journey leads not to death but to eternal life.
By Joe Mazzella