I took transit to work Tuesday, a slow way to get there, but it’s so great to let someone else do the driving.  And, although I can’t read on the train (motion sickness), I can think, and it was a nice way to begin the day.  Even nicer was the walk from the station to church on a fall day so perfectly representative of the season that I’m hard-pressed to describe it without words like “crisp.”  The colors seem particularly radiant this year, which is strange because it’s been a wet fall and the conventional wisdom where I used to live (Vermont:  Fall Foliage Central) was that dryer weather makes for brighter leaves.  No one’s told the Bay Area trees that, though, and this was just the kind of day that lit up every leaf like a piece of stained glass.

I walked under one tree I can’t tell you the name of, but its leaves were heart-shaped and almost uniformly yellow, and its canopy made a great round umbrella over the sidewalk.  I stopped a moment to look up through the leaves, and a murmur escaped me:  “O light come down to earth, be praised!”

Slowly, slowly, they return
To the small woodland let alone:
Great trees, outspreading and upright,
Apostles of the living light.

Patient as stars, they build in air
Tier after tier a timbered choir,
Stout beams upholding weightless grace
Of song, a blessing on this place.

They stand in waiting all around,
Uprisings of their native ground,
Downcomings of the distant light;
They are the advent they await.

Receiving sun and giving shade,
Their life’s a benefaction made,
And is a benediction said
Over the living and the dead.

In fall their brightened leaves, released,
Fly down the wind, and we are pleased
To walk on radiance, amazed.
O light come down to earth, be praised!

(“Slowly, slowly they return,” by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir:  The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997.  It is set to music, with small and sometimes mysterious changes to the words, as #342 in our hymnal Singing the Living Tradition.)

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