November Maples


The leaves of the maples on the corner
have fallen down around their waists.
Now they wear only golden skirts
poked through with branches.


Just a week ago the trees evoked
glory, their brilliant cadmium 
yellow and orange foliage
gleaming in sunlight.
No one knew how long the peak
of autumn color would last.


Just a week ago he was still with us.
An autumn tree not yet stripped,
a season lengthening. 
No one knew how short 
this autumn would be,
how quickly winter could descend.


After today’s rain, we’ll see 
how many leaves 
remain
on those maples. 
Tomorrow or the next day
or perhaps the day after,
just one gust of cool wind
will loosen the yellow leaves
still clinging 
to the branches.


And just like that, another season 
gone.

         *        *        *

 

It is a chilly but pretty November day. I’m standing outside under a tent in the graveyard for a burial service. Just under the awning and beyond the wide-brimmed hat of the pastor, yellow leaves flicker in sunshine, forming a golden backdrop. Its brightness doesn’t defy grief but reflects the certain hope of eternal life.

We have lost a friend to the horrible disease of ALS. In the space of 18 months, his body grew weaker, stiller, quieter. But his spirit, his hope, his purpose, grew stronger and louder. The most important thing in life came into focus: his relationship with God. He recorded videos about it, wrote blogs about it, posted on Facebook about it.

And now, someone stands in front of his casket reading a letter he wrote to his kids for this very moment. “Time spent with God is invested, not wasted,” he said. “Focus on Jesus!”

 

         *        *        *

 

Autumn has a way of reminding us that seasons change quickly, that life is shorter than we often realize.

So do funerals.

The lesson is simple for those of us who live on for another season, another year, another decade. Time is a gift that won’t last forever, and we have a choice about how we will spend it.

My late friend reminds us that the God of all creation transcends time and gives us the gift of eternal life—life with Him after we die—if we have a true relationship with Him here on earth. For it is only during our lives here on earth that we can search for Him, while He may be found.

 

         *        *        *

 

I leave my friend’s funeral thinking about legacy, about the way God empowers us to fulfill purposes far greater than our own.

On the drive home, brown and yellow leaves blow off the trees and swirl across the road. I have no idea how much time I have left on earth. I want to spend—no, invest—it well.

 

For Further Contemplation:

Isaiah 55:6-7

Hebrews 9:27-28

Matthew 6:19-21

Matthew 28:19

One Response to “ “November Maples”

  1. Suz says:

    Well written, Jo… Glad you could be at the graveside and service. Thankful for Dennis, his legacy & that he lives on… Thanks for being inspired to write!

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