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Yesterday was a gentle walk in the woods.  September days are quiet, soft in their own right, messengers of times to come, days of change.

Sunny days in September are a double blessing: light and warmth without the intensity of August, yet the amazing colors of a turning seasons included, free of charge.

I carry a camera with me on many walks, watching and aware of those moments that hold a portrait, those moments where light, texture and form tell a short story worth acknowledging.  On this particular day, the woods were quiet and deep, shadowy and thoughtful.   Little photogenic content; merely a day for feeling the sweet earth and breathing in that mysterious oxygen.

Autumn Leaf in Temporary Glory

But one leaf caught my attention.   It was a single Maple leaf, bathed in a solitary beam of sunlight, against the shadowy background of evergreens.

Something about this leaf, the change of seasons, made me think about my own life and the changing of my own seasons.   It has occurred to me before, that what we see ‘outside’ in Nature, is often a reflection of our own self, our own life: our beauties, our strife, the wideness of our compassion, the blossoming of our own soul.

When you get past 50 – and you see your own body changing – these things take on new meaning.  We’ve all heard this, and we all know this.  Aging.  No one wants to be reminded of this inconvenient little clause built into the contract of human life.

the Crying and Dying of Summer ...

And it’s struck me before: why do we see such beauty in the aging of Nature, yet we see ugliness in the aging of humans?  We see the Cycles Of Everything – coming and going: seasons, jobs, relationships, homes, children, cars, friends, lovers.  And somewhere inside of us, we cling to our fabricated immortality of these things, and we suffer, we cry, we hurt … when these things change and move on.

There’s something in Nature that Gives.  And, relentlessly, IS.  We, anchored in all our “holdings”, our small-town religions we’ve fabricated, look through our tiny portals – from our unnatural world, into the natural world – and we breath a sigh of relief.  There’s something real out there.  There’s something out there that speaks of Life and Giving and the true Divine Plan of things.

Somehow, we’re all a part of that plan.  No one is exempt.

Why is it, that only later in life you see the inevitability of things?  There’s some measure of sobriety that’s gained from sensing deeply your own mortality – the mortality of life itself – and also the mortality of persons and things that you love, that you surround yourself with.

In the folly of my youth, I was surrounded by the folly of other youth.  I was not mentored by wisdom, by those steeped in self-knowledge, by ones who had seen deeper than the facade of life.  Perhaps this is a thing of the world, and world itself is coming of age.  The world itself is mortal, and this fragility and mortality is being spelled out graphically in front of all our eyes.  It will all go, and it will all change, even if this is enacted over eons of time.

But … our tiny little time?  Our sweet and short encounter with breath on this planet?  Our transparent skin, our falling hair, our disappearing resources, our ticking clock.

One day, our children may be taught to appreciate this – at an early age – from those who “get it”.  From those who see.   Until then, it’s up to us: our own thirst, our own knowing, our own seeing.  Our own understanding.