Text: Fall Knows, Eden Oliver; Lamentations 3: 11-23

Fall knows. The ground knows. Creeks, and banks and waves and leaves …they all know! They all know there is yet more in store … more to come … after the withering, the drying up, the falling down -- there will be another round, a new future. They know.
They know!

For all our smarts, our intellect, we’re the ones who don’t … or at least we can so easily lose track. When the world comes crashing down around us … in all the ways that happens -- and countless are the ways, right? … it can just happen to us that we so easily become immersed in, consumed by the evidence at hand that says, “that’s it” … “we’re done, finished.” Which I suppose is to say that we do know … we can be so certain that if there’s to be a future at all, it’s already defined, dictated by what is.

There is a way in which we do know -- but what if we live in a world that is far more alive with possibility than even we with all our incredible capacities can imagine. What if there’s just a whole lot more going on? What if we aren’t finally the masters of our own destiny or demise … but that there’s a vastness to this ride we call life that we’ll never fully appreciate?

Of course we’re free to know what we know … and some times, likely more often than not, the ground, the creeks, the banks, the waves, the leaves, and Fall … they all know more truthfully than we know. This is the beauty of being in touch with the created order all around us. Wisdom abounds … revelation abounds! when we have eyes to see, ears to hear beneath the surface of things.

In fact there’s no telling how it might come to us to perceive more clearly … and to know more truthfully. Just as we can suddenly lose track, so also it can be given to us even without our searching. We read a beautiful case of that in the Hebrew scriptures, in the Book of Lamentations … where the person writing is the victim of catastrophic loss … his homeland invaded, the place left in ruins, the inhabitants have been dragged off and are enduring their shattered lives in exile with no hope of returning home. And then the further kicker … they “know,” (like we so often ‘know’), they are convinced, that all this is God’s doing. So what we find in the book of Lamentations is this great out-pouring of grief. Here’s just a taste of it: 

Yahweh led me off my way and tore me to pieces;
has made me desolate
bent his bow and set me as a mark for his arrow.
has shot into my vitals the arrows of his quiver
I have become the laughingstock of all my people
the object of their taunt-songs all day long.
He has filled me with bitterness, sated me with wormwood.
made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes.
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
So I say gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.
The thought of my affliction and homelessness is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.

And then, in the very next breath … listen to this!:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.

From 3rd person to first person
From God as nemesis to bearer of steadfast love and endless mercy
From total dejection to this glimpse of solidarity, loving kindness!

Something’s happened! … hardly of this person’s own contriving.
Right there, in the slough of despond -- a breakthrough! … a lifting of the shade to reveal a deeper truth … the deepest one of all:  Love Inexhaustible!

There is indeed so much more at work … at play … than we could ever hope or imagine. Our task is to be watchful and to welcome with all our heart, mind, soul and strength every hint of Love’s new- making power for life.

Just as Fall led us into this reflection, Spring’s going to lead us out, with this poem called Late March …

Again the trees remembered
to make leaves.
In the forest of their recollection
many birds returned
They sang, they sang
because they forgave themselves
the winter, and all that remained
still bitter.
Yet it was early spring,
when the days were touch and go,
and a late snow could nip a shoot,
or freeze a fledgling in its nest.
And where would we be then?
But that’s not the point.
Do you think the magpie doesn’t know
that its chicks are at risk,
or the peach trees, their too-frail blossoms,
the new-awakened bees, all that is
incipient within us?
We know, but we can’t help ourselves
any more than they can,
any more than the earth can
stop hurtling through the night
of its own absence.
Must be something in the sap,
the blood, a force like gravity,
a trick called memory.
You name it. Or leave it nameless
that’s better—
how something returns
and keeps on returning
through a gap,
through a dimensional gate,
through a tear in the veil.
And there it is again.
Another spring.
To woo loss into song.  [1]

[1] Richard Schiffman, Late March, Grey Sparrow Journal (Winter 2015)