Friday, 4 October 2013

Dreams and dead things

Ok, so here's a thing. 

I don't like autumn. I know, every time I say that (and I have mentioned it before) there's a collective groan from the people who see it completely differently. They speak of vibrant oranges and yellows and reds and the exhilaration of kicking their way through piles of gorgeousness on brisk, bright mornings and they eat pumpkin and make chutney and so on. 

I don't do any of that. Today the rain keeps on coming down and it's mid-morning but still hasn't become properly light. It's dank and miserable. Everywhere the world is getting darker. Death is all around me. The leaves are starting to fall and blow into brown drifts. The plants need cutting back to clear away the dead stalks, spent seed pods and rotting foliage. Autumn is a time of decay, shrinking, dying back. 

I sit here with both hands round a cup of coffee and I listen to the rain on the roof and contemplate the long months until the days start to get longer. 

I know, it happens every year. You'd think I'd be used to it. Perhaps I should stare at a white screen for a while until I get my share of daylight. Alternatively perhaps I should shut up and look on the bright side. 

It'll soon be Christmas. 


Anyway, I think I'm growing up. I've realised something about autumn. 

Leaves are falling from the trees onto my flower beds. They will eventually make a blanket over all the sleeping shrubs and bulbs and the blanket will help keep moisture in and protect the ground from frosts until it slowly composts down into the soil. The drifts of fallen leaves will dissolve into leaf mould, leaving my heavy, clay-ey soil richer and conditioned. 

Underground, I imagine the roots and bulbs snuggling down for a winter sleep and taking on board the nourishment from the soil around them. Undisturbed by footballs and footsteps, the garden rests. Takes a deep breath and sighs. Relaxes before the brighter sun, warmer temperatures and longer days start to signal that it's wake-up time. Spring rise-and-shine time. 

But autumn is for snuggling down. The tree lets the leaves fall to protect itself from the relative dryness of winter - it's a survival mechanism. The dead stuff that falls and decays and is so often the focus of my autumn grumpiness is essential to the cycle of the plants in the garden. 

Things fall and die. As a result of their death and decay, something new can grow.

And if that's not a life lesson, I don't know what is. 

Lately I've been feeling as if I'm stalled. I want to move forward with plans and and yet things aren't going my way. I had some ideas that came to nothing. God is asking me to wait, and I feel as if I've been waiting too long already. I'm ready for the new growth, that moment in spring when you look around you as if you were seeing for the first time and suddenly there are bright, impossibly green shoots everywhere you look. I want that. 

Rapid growth, dramatic development, shoots and buds and blooms. Colour, not darkness. Not the leaf-mould, mulchy, sodden ground wait, wait... it's a slow process. 

Maybe it's all a slow process. Maybe there's a place where dreams go to die and as they fall, limp and lifeless, they start to enrich the soil around them. Perhaps God is saying that something has to die for something to be born. The dead thing isn't lost, wasted, useless; it's a catalyst for something new and beautiful. I didn't realise that my plans were the leaf-mould of the future and it hurts to watch them disintegrate and slowly turn to compost, but I believe His way is best. 

His dreams are bigger than mine. 

So the soil of my life is being forked over by the Gardener. He's digging in some of the leaf-mould as things die and decay. He's digging deep, and it's not comfortable. If I am the soil, then my instinct is to stay dense and full of clay, but things don't easily grow in soil like that. The good stuff needs to be worked in until the whole texture of the soil changes. Until it is transformed into something fertile. 

Who'd have thought that the good stuff turns out to be the stuff that gets thrown away? 

So I am soil, and I am in need of nourishment. I am claggy clay, but partially leaf-mould and I am waiting. I am changing, slowly, imperceptibly, into soil in which God will make something grow. 

All in His good time. 

It turns out that there's a reason for Autumn. 

Linking with Nacole at Six in the Sticks for Concrete Words: Finding the abstract in the concrete. This time the prompt was 'Soil'.


  1. has been awhile since I have visited. I have missed reading your posts. So here I am and I totally get your feelings and words here. I feel a bit stuck in the leaves...not sure what is growing or where to go next. My motivation has slowed considerably and I think it is about priorities. I am excited for the spring in my life though whenever it comes. Hugs!

    1. Well, someone said, 'If winter comes, can spring be far behind?' :-)
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Dionne. Good to see you!

  2. Beautifully written words that nourish as compost does to soil (no pun intended!) with its rich nutrients. For in your ponderings you tap so thoroughly into the psyches of all who find the dying back a dreary occurence - including me.
    You also tap (unintentionally) into the gist of a post I've just prepared for Saturday on Poetry Joy as I speak of life rising anew after a season of waiting. How wonderful that we should be thinking alike and wanting to express the glory hidden in decay! Although you may have started out feeling low, you don't leave yourself or your readers there at all. The focus is on seeing growth and change to come. And it will. For you, my friend, and for all who desire to see good days. Blessings and love :) xx

    1. It's funny how often we're on the same wavelength, Joy! Thank you so much for your lovely words.

  3. Thanks for this Helen,
    I too am sick of waiting around for the new shoots that have failed to materialise when they once looked so promising. My dreams lay scattered about my feet and autumn is is tough time for me because just as the leaves start to fall and the days get shorter I remember that this is the time of year when Andrew died. Change takes so much time but then it can happen in an instant and your world is turned up-side-down forever...
    Sorry I think I'm waffling now - but just thanks for this, it's good to know I am not alone xx

    1. Oh, Sarah, you're not alone. I have no idea what it feels like to go through what you've gone through but I do know that you are never alone, even at those times when it feels so much like it.
      Saying a prayer for you now as it gets more and more autumnal.

  4. Once again, friend, you have hit it. I've felt some dreams dying over this year, and I know somewhere in my head that His plan for this time is enriching me. My heart wants new growth, but I want more to remember that this season has important purpose as well.

    1. I have to keep reminding myself that there's more to this season of death and decay... it's all about trust, I think.
      thank you for coming, my friend.


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