A Heaven of Impermanence

photo by Josh Scholten

My friend, you have led me farther than I have ever been.
To a garden in autumn. To a heaven of impermanence
where the final falling off is slow, a slow and radiant happening.
The light is gold. And while we’re here, I think it must
    be heaven.
~Elizabeth Spires from “In Heaven it is Always Autumn”

I wander the autumn garden mystified at the passing of the weeks since seed was first sown, weeds pulled, peapods picked.  It could not possibly be done so soon–this patch of productivity and beauty, now wilted and brown, vines crushed to the ground, no longer fruitful.

The root cellar is filling up, the freezer packed.  The work of putting away is almost done.

So why do I go back to the now barren soil I so carefully worked, numb in the knowledge I will pick no more this season, feel the burst of a cherry tomato exploding in my mouth or the green freshness of a bean straight off the vine?

Because for a few fertile weeks, only a few weeks, the garden was a bit of heaven on earth, impermanent but a real taste nonetheless.   We may have mistaken Him for the gardener when He appeared to us radiant, suddenly unfamiliar, but He offered the care of the garden, to bring in the sheaves, to share the forever mercies in the form of daily bread grown right here and now.

When He says my name, then I will know Him.  He will lead me farther than I have ever been.

photo by Josh Scholten

…in heaven it is always autumn, his mercies are ever in their maturity.  God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon,  to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest…
~John Donne in Christmas Day Sermon 1624