Transition Update: November 2023
"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face." – John Donne
Like the trees all around us, we are in a time of change. I hate myself for writing that – but I cannot help it. Our ongoing transition, the “Rooted in Abundance” theme of this year’s stewardship campaign, and the time of year make tree metaphors inevitable. I see almost daily reports trying to pinpoint when the fall foliage will peak for a given area. It seems to be both an art and a science. For a tree, spring and summer turns leaves bright green with the chlorophyll that fuels the conversion of carbon dioxide and water into the starch and sugar that allows the tree to grow. As the days grow shorter and the temperature falls, the chlorophyll lessens, allowing the other colors that were always present in the leaf to surface.
Apparently, chlorophyll has known chemical reactions to certain temperatures and light levels which vary according to tree type, allowing meteorologists to predict those peak foliage times. According to the farmer’s almanac, more rustic predictors like the timing of a wheat crop or the diameter of that year’s sunflowers are equally accurate. Unfortunately, our interim rector search has no such scientific or observational determinants. While I write this, we are in the process of interviewing candidates with the hopes of having someone in place in time for the Advent season. Our timing is unknown, but a lot of effort and serious thought is being given to the process by the vestry, with the input and assistance of parishioners.
If our church is a tree, it is a strong one for which we should all be grateful. With that in mind, remember that aside from the ever present and sometimes overlooked foundation it provides us, our Church also gives flashes of beauty and joy like the blaze of the autumn leaves that are all around us: a soaring choir to honor a departed friend, beautifully decorated windows in the nave, pews bursting with donations for the less fortunate. While things may feel a little “wintry” and bare at the moment, there is more going on than meets the eye, precisely because of the strength, spirit, and abundance in which we are rooted. A tree in fall and winter looks lifeless, but the tree is waiting. The buds are in place and everything is ready. The fallen leaves are mulching the forest floor. The pine cones and acorns are providing food in a scarce time for mice and squirrels. The bark is hosting hibernating insects and providing a source of nourishment for hungry deer. The tree is far from lifeless. It is in fact the life and soul of the woods in which it sits.