I have been thinking a lot about being outdoors and taking walks and what it means to be a whole person. One of Taylor’s mantras is that we are “whole person focused,” but I think in the buzz of classes and activities it is easy to forget to take time to do the things that actually make us feel whole.
For me, one of those things is being outside. I have always felt the presence of God most clearly—not when I am reading my Bible or forcing a prayer or hearing a sermon—but when I am immersed in nature.
This is especially true in autumn when the world has erupted in color. My drive to church in Muncie is my best chance to see the leaves. For thirty minutes I see the reds, the yellows, the greens. For thirty minutes, I stare at the world and I feel the world stare back at me.
To me, fall is so poignant because it is such strong evidence of God’s grace. The turning of the leaves and the hibernation of the trees does not have to be as beautiful as it is. Fall could be a season of death where the leaves all look sickly before dropping in big, sad heaps to the ground. Instead, they are art, painted by a loving and gracious God.
I still remember when my friend, junior Ashley Anderson, and I both stayed on campus for fall break freshman year. The highlight of this break was taking a fall walk. For both of us, it was our first Midwest fall and we had never seen such treasures of ruby and gold before. Every year, Anderson presses leaves in a book to preserve the best of the season’s yield and the memories associated with every foundling.
I kept forgetting to take my fall walk this year. I would remember every Sunday as I rode alongside friends, Bon Iver drifting quietly out of the rolled down windows into the Indiana countryside.
Finally, I remembered on my way back to my dorm from class. I saw the woods and their reflection in the lake. My thoughts were beckoned to that small crop of trees and the adventure that lay within.
I listened to the crush of the leaves and the chirping of birds overhead and the buzz of bees around me. All of these would be gone soon. I thought about a haiku I had read years ago. I did not remember the words but I remember the image of a person staring at a leaf and imagining themselves in its place, drifting to the ground in an autumn breeze.
Fall is transience in evidence. Maybe it is a reflection of this world. Maybe in New Jerusalem, there will be no autumn because the eternal will replace the temporary. I do not have any answers, just thoughts and a new handful of leaves.