I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud.
So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow,
its tones mellower, its colors richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow.
Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer,
but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age.
It knows the limitations of life and is content.
OUR GREATEST GIFT
by Henri Nouwen
Old men and women must prepare for death. For me, the first task is to become a child again. When we know that God holds us safely we don’t have to fear anything or anyone but can walk through life with great confidence. It is the freedom rooted in being a child of God. When we can reach beyond our fears to the One who loves us with a love that was there before we were born and will be there after we die… death will be unable to take our freedom.
A good death is a death in solidarity with others. To prepare ourselves for a good death, we must develop or deepen this sense of solidarity. If we live toward death as toward an event that separates us from people, death cannot be other than a sad and sorrowful event. But if we grow in awareness that our mortality, more than anything else will lead us into solidarity with others, then death can become a celebration of our unity with the human race. Instead of separating us from others, death can unite us with others. Some of us die earlier, others later. But all of us die and participate in the same end. This communion with the whole human family takes the sting out of dying and points us far beyond the limits of our chronology.
We die poor. There is a blessing hidden in the poverty of dying. It is the blessing that makes us brothers and sisters in the same kingdom. In fact, Jesus’ way of dying offers us a hopeful example.
We, too, can say to our friends, “It is for your own good that I am dying.” But where we listen deeply to Jesus’ words, we realize that we are called to live like him, to die like him, and to rise like him. Not only the death of Jesus, but our death too, is destined to be good for others. It is meant to bear fruit in other people’s lives.
The great mystery is that all people who have lived with and in the spirit of God participate through their deaths in the sending of the Spirit. In this way, dying becomes the way to everlasting fruitfulness. Our death may be the end of our success, our productivity, and our fame… but it is not the end of our fruitfulness. The beauty of life is that it bears fruit long after life itself has come to an end (John 12:24).
In every respect, Jesus’ life was a failure. Still, few lives have been so fruitful. The real question before our death, is not how much can I still accomplish… but how can I live so that I can continue to be fruitful. Our doing brings success, but our being bears fruit.
(Henri Nouwen, A Meditation on Dying and Caring)
No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face.
Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
January cold and desolate; February dripping wet; March wind ranges; April changes; Birds sing in tune To flowers of May, And sunny June Brings longest day; In scorched July The storm-clouds fly, Lightning-torn; August bears corn, September fruit; In rough October Earth must disrobe her; Stars fall and shoot In keen November; And night is long And cold is strong In bleak December.
Christina Giorgina Rossetti