By Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon
Earlier in October I went to Maine to visit my son who moved to Portland during the pandemic. With my husband and son, I spent an amazing day hiking in Acadia National Park climbing Norumbega Mountain. At the top we could see the Atlantic Ocean, and the scent of the fall foliage mingled with the salt air. It was exhilarating. I believe that this day will live with me the rest of my life: to have climbed the rigorous trail to the top and stand there with my son feeling the joy and possibilities of life. It led me to think about how each experience of beauty and love equips us to be living memories of such beauty and love as we walk through our lives. Perhaps this is how we become the “aroma of Christ” as the Apostle Paul says, the perfume that reminds others we meet of something they were meant for, something they could remember, something they need. I have often felt that what I have best known in my life is the abiding mystery of God, emerging in such moments of clarity when I least expected it. Standing on a mountain with my son: the knowledge of Christ with me, with him, and with us all. The way love never ends. Perhaps these kinds of experiences embody our intercession for others.
I can smell the scent of fall leaves
before I see their color and
everything that matters.
This moment of premonition is what I love,
time that gives a hint and my guess is right:
beauty is everywhere --
a sweeping canopy appears around the corner,
and then, feeling understood, acknowledged, held
in the bracing shift of wind – all clouds are lifted
from the horizon and we imagine the places we are going,
not in a straight line, mind you, but as a destiny, as hope.
I wonder if the changing seasons smell the same everywhere,
everywhere in the world, even where we have been forgotten,
and the colors appearing unbidden are what we all find,
as though God hovers as the days cool and the leaves release.
There will be those who will not go out to press the maples between their palms,
who will not lie down on the blanket of sycamore and breathe the loamy air;
For them is a grief they cannot place, a name they cannot recall, a memory they have lost.
Cover me with the scent of trees and the colors of this autumn day
that I might remind those I meet of place, name and memory
and they might find the scent of the rich ground covered in leaves,
see the vivid destination, the beauty, for all God’s children.