HYMN OF PRAISE

By Lisa Huddleston

“For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies, For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies:  Lord of all, to Thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.”    –Folliott S. Pierpoint

O how I love the fall!  The coolness of the breeze.  The glory of the leaves.  Yes … I could get downright poetic about it.  It is my all-time, hands-down, favorite time of year.  And not just for the beauty it displays, but also for the potent illustration it paints.  Every year, as green summer blazes and then fades to grey winter, fall reminds me of what has been.  And I savor the melancholy remembrance.  The people I have loved and who have powerfully loved me.  The places I have left behind both by choice or circumstance.  The memories crowd into my head in ghostly whispers and engulf me in their smoky arms.  Wrapped up in the past and recognizing that it is also my future, fall shows me how beautiful dying can be.

Not meaning to be morbid, but death is what fall foreshadows.  It is the final glory of the leafy world around us.  Not yet gone.  Not dead yet, but dying.  And powerfully, passionately lovely.  And, Lord, it reminds me of You.  You who died to all that was rightfully Yours.  You who took on the form of servant in order to wash me clean.  You who suffered as the winds of hate stripped Your glory from You … almost yet not quite.  You who in death delivered blazing orange and yellow victory.

Yes, the beauty is in the dying.  In the willingness to give yourself over wholeheartedly and without any reserve.  Like the golden woods surrounding my home.  Blazing to die.  Flashing in brilliant, beautiful sacrifice.  Giving it all to the end.  Sadly, it is not in me to die with such glory.  Not me.  I am one who fights for her rights.  Who doesn’t like to lose.  Who hates to wash smelly feet and reviles suffering.  Who hangs on for dear life. 

But, the beauty is in the dying.  Dying to my selfishness.  Dying to my pride and arrogance.  In bright and blazing reds and yellows.  Dying even to my petty preferences that often go unnoticed.  My favorites, my comforts, my familiars.  Even they must die in star-like spurts of aster blues and purples.  All must go and give way to the grey death of winter.  And I don’t want to die.

Yet, I hear Your whispered words of love.  “Come on, sweet girl.  It’s not so bad.  Give up and let go.  Let Me light you up like the fall!”  So I smile and take one timid step and then another.  “Oh, please, catch me when I fall.”  And falling I fall … into the arms of God.  Slowly.  Season after season.  Little by little.  Moving ever closer to His glory and the blazing, beautiful surrender of the fall.

“For the wonder of each hour Of the day and of the night, Hill and vale and tree and flower, Sun and moon and stars of light:  Lord of all, to Thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.”

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