To be fair, I first noticed back at the end of July. Six weeks ago it was a couple of yellow leaves in the maple tree out in front and I dismissed it as a dead branch. It was July, after all, hot and humid. Nothing at that moment made me think of fall.

Now it is getting harder to ignore. The color is spreading down the trees as though someone on a cloud passing over St. Anthony’s spilled cans of red, orange, yellow and gold paint. In addition, the mornings are cool and crisp. Tracy is hinting that it may be time to stoke the fireplace, although Marge and Candy are enjoying the respite from Summer’s heat.  The produce in the garden tells us growing season is also coming to an end and it is now harvest season. We waited patiently through June and July to enjoy the fruits of our labors, and now the tomatoes are coming so fast we cannot keep up with eating them. Squash, pumpkins and peppers are also nearing harvest.

Another sure sign that the summer is fading is the calendar. I don’t mean the word “September” at the top of the page, but the fact that there are only two days in September after Labor Day weekend that we have no guests in the house. That makes for very busy staff and residents. October also has only two open days, and that may change long before those open days arrive. Now we are not full by any means, since we are still being very cautious with COVID, but the rhythm of the cycle of life in a retreat center is there, the rhythm of comings and goings, the rhythm of welcoming and saying goodbye.

Nature reminds us that life is constantly changing. The cycle of life with its times of beginning, growing, dying and resting are very evident in the world around us. Those same stages are present within each of us as well, but we don’t often stop and pay attention to them until a “big” moment forces us to stop and notice – the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a serious illness. If only we humans could learn to pay attention to and accept the cycle of life and its natural rhythm of giving and receiving in our lives as easily as the trees receive their buds in spring and let go of their leaves each fall.

For these leaves that are a-changin’, and for the lessons they offer us about the cycle of life for all of God’s creation, we say Deo Gratias!