By Gina Gaudet
While perusing an online liturgy/sermon source, I found a lovely essay on the lesson of fall colors: part-science, part-spirit and fully, deeply exquisite. It’s slightly edited to fit the assigned column space; enjoy, share, and then be thankful that our great creator loves a nice canvas to color!
So what about the colors of fall? Many leaves contain orange and yellow pigments all year round, but in the spring and summer they’re masked by the vivid greens of chlorophyll, the pigment that absorbs light to provide energy for photosynthesis. As the days become shorter and cooler, the chlorophyll breaks down and drains away, letting the oranges and yellows shine through. If God is a painter of autumn trees, what we see is an art not of addition but of subtraction, revealing the hidden beauty of what was always already there.
And the stunning reds? They appear when leftover sugars in certain leaves are transformed into anthocyanins, red and purple pigments. Which, incidentally, are more intense when exposed to sunlight. And which is why the parts of remaining leaves that are most exposed to sunlight are most deeply red of all. It is the same for the sunny sides of apples; that’s where the crimsons emerge. As it turns out, the divine artist paints not only by revelation, but also by transformation.
So the next time you take a walk or a bike ride through a landscape alive with changing fall foliage, recall that this grand spectacle is a sheer riot of glory for glory’s sake! It’s a tide of splendor spilling over the world’s brim, flooding the forest for no biologically advantageous “reason” other than its own radiance.
And recall, too, how the oranges and golds arrive by way of revelation, disclosing what was always there; the reds and purples by way of transformation of leftovers. A divine sermon in pigment and light, shimmering for all who have eyes to see.
All sermons have takeaways: it is why we spend time talking on Sundays. In what way does your creator reveal your true inner beauty by what is taken away (whether you like it or not)?
And has the divine artist ever used “leftovers” to transform a brilliant new you? As you reflect on this, remember this November to give thanks to God for the grace of fall and its life lessons!
May your autumn be audacious and awesome!