Yesterday, Postulant Sarah told me she had completed her cleaning, and was there anything else she could do? So I sent her out to the garden to assess the damage caused by that morning’s frost. As I have mentioned before, this is my first year of fall gardening, and so I was unsure as to when the first fall frost would hit here in Barhamsville. At our old stomping ground in
the frost would come in mid-November.
But I had a suspicion that it would come earlier here, being as we are a
bit further north, a bit higher in elevation and quite a bit further inland
from the regulating ocean waters.
Although expected, a frost always seems to be a surprise when it
arrives. And so, I was duly shocked when
I observed the tell-tale white glimmering on the monastery roof as I passed on
my way down the hall to Holy Mass this week.
Here is what Sarah saw in our frost-bitten garden:
Buckwheat dead (I had hoped we could harvest a few leaves as salad)
Chinese Cabbage flourishing (our Asian Sisters are excited!)
The advent of the frost heralds the ending of the growing season, just as the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time proclaims that the end of the liturgical cycle is in sight. In today’s second reading for Holy Mass,
St. Paul speaks of his own immanent death as
a “pouring out” and a “dissolution”. The
dying of the year reminds us of our own death.
This can be frightening, especially for those of us who feel the cold in
their bones and see the frost whitening their hair and cheek. Our culture worships the springtime glow of
youth, caring little for the experience of age.
Yet we as Christians know that eternal life follows only through the
door of decline, death and decay. Just
as the onslaught of winter is inexorable, so is the flowering of spring
inevitable. Local wisdom has it that the
harder the winter, the better the spring.
Perhaps it is, however, that the slowly limiting autumn is more taxing
than the winter, just as old age is sometimes more feared than death itself. But in these moments, let us look forward to
the eternal youth that will be different from our first flush since it will be
enriched by the harvest of wisdom gleaned from our lives well lived or from our
mistakes well learned. Like St. Paul, let us await
the crown of glory that will be placed on our heads by Him who has gone before
us and who Himself is called the Day-Spring!