Autumn: the Beauty of Dying

It's autumn. The trees are ‘turning’. Any Englishman knows this means the dark green leaves of late summer are changing to yellows, oranges and reds. Go to any woodland or deciduous forest and expect the beauty-o-meters to crash as you behold the gorgeous hues and colours. Crimsons and scarlets, oranges and ambers, golds and mustards: the splendour of an English autumn.

But isn’t all this the result of death and decay? Imagine the trees were green all year round, and always had been. Then this year, for the first time, they lost their vernal greens and turned red, orange and yellow before their leaves dropped off completely. Would we rejoice? No, we’d think the end of the world had come. Our lovely trees had succumbed to some terrible wasting disease, robbing them of life and transforming their natural beauty into this garish panoply of death. In reality, we know this dying is but temporary so we can see and appreciate its beauty.

So with the dying Christian. Although we long for our loved ones to stay forever, their dying and deathly alteration is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see. For the Adamic body yellows and reddens in preparation for its more glorious replacement.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Ps 116:15

The Lord beholds His saints dying every day, just as most of us have experienced many a woodland autumn. He therefore sees its beauty and prepares to greet the dearly departed at the gate when they arrive. To those of us left behind, it is a tragic, ugly event; like one who beholds his first autumnal yellowing and concludes the trees are dead forever.