Mourning in Autumn

Two years ago, I wrote a poem on a beautiful autumn day (see below, in Dutch). The poem still means a lot to me, it expresses so well my feelings of deep, deep longing, combined with the knowledge that all is fleeting, and my difficulty to cope with that. The poem describes the beautiful golden leaves, the sun that lights on them, and the earth holding its breath to enjoy the moment longer. Especially in autumn the memories of good old times pop up. How I wish we could all hold our breath longer and never let go of all this beauty!

Soon, storms will come, and blow everything away, and then winter, and then spring again. Two years ago, I didn’t want to think about those storms. But now I do. It’s time to grieve properly, and then let go. It’s necessary to make space for new life.

Autumn is not primarily enjoying golden leaves. Much more important is the harvest. Harvesting is not the same as hoarding. What I did before: holding my breath, clinging to everything, that’s hoarding. But harvesting is done so that we can enjoy food, and have new seeds to sow. Enjoy what I learned from my grandmother, pass on her love to my children, and let the memories rest. Nature, and Ecc. 3, teach us that this is the way it is supposed to go.

There is something in my past that causes much more painful grief than the death of my grandmother. It may sound strange to an outsider, but I am sure that the CA community1 is collectively experiencing unprocessed grief about the death of the apostles and all the expectations that went with them. We cannot process this grief because we have been told to expect them back any moment with our risen Lord. Even though they died 117 years ago, I have always lived with this immediate expectation, never considering if perhaps the facts indicated something different. The fact that we cannot grieve, stifles new life.

So, I’ve decided to grieve this also, now properly. But it is very hard. I have always been deeply impressed with the beauty of all our teachings, and liturgy and the whole system of ideas. Only I think we have hoarded them, not harvested, not sown with tears.

I am writing all this, as I said, to grieve properly. I can do that neither silently, nor alone. Please bear with me all you fellow Christians, who have suffered so much from our stiffness. My enmeshment with these things from the past needs a proper burial. I feel strongly that I cannot start a new life without leaving the old. I have tried this before, with my confession in ramblings of a pharisee, but I’m afraid that was interpreted as the angry outcry of someone hurt. It wasn’t. Really it wasn’t. It’s purely my attempt at cleaning up. Please allow me to unleash the storms of autumn that are necessary to blow fresh air into what’s old and dead. And be kind, it will help me grieve.


De zon streelt de gouden bladeren
De aarde houdt haar adem in
De tijd van afscheid is gekomen
Nu nog de verwondering.

De aarde ademt langzaam uit,
Een gouden gloed dwarrelt,
Adembenemend zo mooi,
Vasthouden kan niet, het gaat voorbij.

Herinneringen dwarrelen omhoog
Niet te stuiten, van gouden tijden
Die ook voorbij zijn, ontglipt,
Als een zucht vol weemoed,
Maar niet te hard, ik wil nu
Genieten, van dit moment.