Woods Walking #4

Fall Colors        Original Post October 24, 2009

During my walks this week, I have been treated to a riot of color. As you know from my first installment, this is still my first year of regular evening walks on the trails of Ault Park. It’s been a delight to watch the gradual deepening of colors as fall displays its natural changes.

Earlier this week I turned down the last Observatory hill from under an immediate canopy of leaves to see a grand pallet of colors; reds, yellows, oranges and even hints of maroon edging into purple. The park’s weeping cherry trees put on a daily, almost balletic performance, changing from green to reds and orange, before falling from their branches with an orange-yellow hue. The colors are vibrant, bright and beautiful. The trails were carpeted with all these dappled colors, as the leaves spend their last hours before beginning their decay into the arboreal legacy of the forest floor.

Tonight, after a full day of drenching rain, the leaves became like a waxed floor. Suddenly, my dog Trevor took off after a squirrel and I began to skate along the Ridge Trail, being pulled by his leash until I could get a firm footing against a root to halt his nose-down pursuit. “T-dog” will dream of it tonight and the squirrel will sleep soundly after loudly defending his lofty winter perch, staring down at us with its own bark and a few defiant flicks of its tail.

The immediate signs of the annual autumnal cycle of life played out before me and put me in mind of the analogy to our own human cycle. The woods offer up a quick study of this natural cycle, from the fresh, frail seedlings that gird for their first winter to the adolescent saplings that yearn for space and light to the mature giants that shout with color before yielding yet another crop of leaves to the deepening soil.

And there is dying and death. The beauty of the foliage precedes the leaves’ final bow before they fall to the forest floor and seemingly melt into the rich, lush soil that will produce yet another and another spring and summer of leaves. And the giant, fallen trunks that lie on the floor of the woods, from the freshly fallen to the now rotting, disintegrating piles that snake through the woods, yielding to the earth.

The Natural Cycle of Life

The leaves, the trees and all the plants of the woods are a natural product of the “stuff” of Mother Earth, arising from the “substantial lineage” of Creation. As mentioned in Woods Walking #2, the potency of the common substance that we share in being, upon which our very existence depends, is playing out its current display from a long continuum of coming to be. From the raw, primal elements of the Big Bang – hydrogen, helium and lithium – through the pressure of stellar furnaces that yielded all the elements that we know today — this “stuff” now is highly organized in a physical, chemical matrix that yields life in all its joys and sorrows, in all its newness, youth, aging and dying.

And I, amidst this play of life, am of an age to have seen the birth of my own daughter and the death of my own parents. Yet I see here in these woods that the yielding of life is to yet another generation, and generations to come after these. The plants and trees write their legacy in the soil under foot, while we reflect on what we see before us, communicate it and pass our own legacies on to our family, friends and offspring. Ours is a legacy of the Word and of knowledge, of life and love. These are our soil.

And we express our joy and gratitude back to God our Creator and to the Communion of Saints within the Body of Christ, the living legacy of our second birth through death into that Eternal Communion, as we realize – and live – the potential of this “stuff” of Creation from which all life springs. We, as the human offspring of God’s Creation, witness the beauty and glory of our very existence and opportunity to share in it and reflect our wonder and joy over it to our loved ones and back to our Creator.

I stop on the trail for a moment and revel in my own “I am.” I reflect on the long continuum of time that has led to my personal coming to be and this current moment, here on this 23rd day of October in the year 2009 A.D./C.E., at the colorful dusk of another day. I trace my genealogy that yields to the forest floor, to the stuff of being and the “substantial lineage” back to the moment of creation. This reflection yields to an instantaneous Presence within which, in spirit, I lay prostrate in humility and thankfulness for this wondrous, ineffable Gift of Life. Tonight, there is no infused contemplation, just a personal upwelling of joy and gladness; from me to You.

Then Trevor pulls at the leash, I come back to self. Time, and the evening — and we — march on.

During outdoor walking practice – in order to connect more deeply with all of the healing elements within and around you – you may want to stop walking from time to time and simply breathe ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Copyright © 2009 Rudolph Siegel

The Colors of Fall


About rudyink

Answering the call.
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9 Responses to Woods Walking #4

  1. rudyink says:

    Original Post November 29, 2009

    In Woods Walking #4, I’ve mentioned the legacy of the soil, and our human legacies. I’ve mentioned this in very general terms. So I came across a wonderful short documentary that is a specific story of legacy. It’s is the story of former WWII fighter pilot Jim Brooks and his relationship in his waning years with his grandchildren.

    The short trailer:

    The long trailer:

    This story helps me appreciate my own immediate family legacies and their importance — those received from my own parents and relations, but also from the extended legacies passed to us over many generations. As Richard Bollman said in today’s 11 AM mass homily, it is “who we are.”

    Brooks’ story is one centered in aviation and the war of his generation. My particular interest in aviation is part of the legacy passed on to me and my brother from our dad. He was an archetypical airport kid in the 1930s when “airport kids” were first being molded; from his long bike rides between Clifton and Lunken Airfield, to wide-eyed wonder at those fancy new aerial contraptions and the courageous aviators who flew them, to building and flying model airplanes and later, in the 1960s, restoring and learning to fly in a full-scale airplane and teaching his own sons to fly.

    Our individual legacies are the result of intimate, personal experiences communicated and passed on. And these personal legacies color in a very real way the temper of our families and communities. They become the expression of our human family, from the close and immediate to even the extended face of the body of humanity.

    There is a moral implication within “legacy.” As Ken Overberg might challenge us in his homilies, “What is your legacy?”

  2. rudyink says:

    Original Post May 30, 2010

    I came across an old favorite piece of music that beautifully complements this post — “Autumn Leaves” by Oscar Peterson and Stephan Grappelli. http://youtu.be/RpBq9sdQ6j8

  3. rudyink says:

    Another APOD image linked below that inspires the visualization and contemplation of the biblical phrase from Genesis 3, “For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” Meanwhile, the APOD image helps us comprehend the synthesis of the inspired ancient story and the new science “by the sweat of the brow.” The Hubble image shows the literal source of star formation from the expanse of interstellar dust — the potential genesis of new life in that region. These images, enabled by today’s technology, show us our real and true “substantial lineage” back to the Creative moment of the “Breath of God into the Cosmos.”


  4. rudyink says:

    Comment Originally Posted January 30, 2010

    Last Tuesday, Geoffrey Burbidge passed away. In 1957, he, his wife and two other scientists published the important paper, “Synthesis of the Elements in Stars.” An interesting genesis to the link below concerning “The Making of the First Star.” One wonders, is his work now affirmed as he wings through the heavens?


  5. rudyink says:

    More on “substantial lineage”: NPR’s take on life arising from the basic elements of creation.


  6. rudyink says:

    Bob Dorough’s classic, “‘Tis Autumn.”

  7. rudyink says:

    From Tao & Zen on Facebook:

    We live by the sun, We feel by the moon,
    We move by the stars,
    We live in all things, All things live in us,
    We eat from the earth, We drink from the rain,
    We breathe of the air,
    … We live in all things, All things live in us,
    We call to each other, We listen to each other,
    Our hearts deepen with love and compassion,
    We live in all things, All things live in us,
    We depend on the trees and animals,
    We depend on the earth,
    Our minds open with wisdom and insight,
    We live in all things, All things live in us,
    We dedicated our practice to others,
    We include all forms of life,
    We celebrate the joy of living-dying,
    We live in all things, All things live in us,
    We are full of life, We are full of death,
    We are grateful for all beings and companions.

    ~ Stephanie Kaza ~

  8. rudyink says:

    Our shared “here and now” as we arc through the cosmos.

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