Is that the sound of the sky falling?
And then a tremendously loud THWACK, as a deluge of acorns crashes upon the hard plastic roof of the chicken pen. Incredibly, the hens take no notice. You see, this has been going on for a month, this daily hailstorm of acorns, and they have become inured to it. Even when a fierce October wind knocks over a pot, they don’t skitter away but instead gather around to pluck the lovely yellow blossoms.
Fall used to be my favorite season. New notebooks and sharpened pencils season. A crisp edge to the air and, yes, even here in California, some leaf color with the liquid amber and birch trees in our neighborhood. But I have grown old, and too fond of languid summer evenings. Those nights when dusk falls so late and you can still make out the silhouette of a hen as much in love with summer as I am, lingering in the pen and waiting until full dark to march into the coop for the night.
This season, now, has begun to feel more to me like an ending than a beginning.
We lost a family friend week before last. A gentleman too fine to make such an early departure. It was incredibly sudden. A man who always had a kind, quiet word for everyone and who, refreshingly, preferred to stand behind the camera rather than in front of it.
And then another shock. A neighbor in the hospital. It is serious. Prognosis uncertain.
Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! The acorns fall hard and fast. Pay attention, they say. Notice the things that matter!
But I am too much like the little-brained hens. Inured. Easily distracted. Because there are yellow blossoms to pluck, and there are other fruits of fall – nascent pomegranates growing in the hedge, wizened little olives dropping from the trees and fiery pyracantha berries bursting into bloom. Even those acorns are fruit, even in autumn, even amidst grief. Perhaps, just as we send flowers to the grieving, we are sent these fruits as a consolation. A reminder of life amidst death. Because where are we without hope?
And just as I was pondering all this in my tiny hen-brain, a text message lit up my screen (remember the old days when the phone used to ring?) and there is a joyful summons to come visit a newborn baby! Life wheels around, endings and beginnings blurred together, all of it a mystery to me.
I am like those hens, too feeble-minded to grasp it all. But I suspect there is a call beyond fear and grief, a call to faith and that promise of hope. Today, I’m on my knees, praying for those in grief, praying in gratitude for new life, and praying for the miracle that I might someday get the wisdom to understand.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. – Psalm 94:19