I love autumn. Who doesn’t? We haven’t had much fall color around our home so far; it’s been too warm and too dry. I love the shortening days as the sun sits low in the sky casting its golden gleam across the field and trees, long shadows, that certain softness of light that photographers love. And then the clouds begin their final change before they disappear into the night.
Charles Wright, a fine American poet, has written so many beautiful lines on these late afternoon pleasures. Consider, from “Body and Soul II”:
Afternoon sky the color of Cream of Wheat, a small
Dollop of butter hazily at the western edge.
And from “Nine-Panel Yaak River Screen”:
Inside the pyrite corridors of late afternoon,
Image follows image, clouds
And shadows, like angels, lie at the feet of all things.
And from “Littlefoot”:
The winter leaves crumble between my hands,
How is it we can’t accept this, that all trees were holy once,
That all light is altar light,
And floods us, day by day, and bids us, the air sheet lightning
To sit still and say nothing,
here under the latches of Paradise?
Sky the color of Cream of Wheat? The slanting light like pyrite? And the certainty that the light of the cooling day is the light of God—his light, shining on his earth and his people. These images make me want to savor the beauty and loveliness of the day. They make me want to be immersed in beauty.
In fact, in some peculiar way, they make me want to be good.
I think this is the striking claim that Wright makes: How can we miss so much? Why are we so distracted? Why don’t we even care that we are distracted? How can we miss the truth—the revelation—of our world? All trees were holy once! All light is altar light! Shining forth on God’s creation, showing it to be holy, to be set apart, for his glory.