Autumn returns to our New Hampshire hillside. The light of day grows shorter. Fading from its rare eclipse, the harvest moon wanes. The garden yields its last bounty.

The leaves change color and begin to fall, reprising how much the trees contribute to our landscape and our lives. Throughout the seasons the oxygen they produce fills our lungs with life. Their branches shelter families of birds. A pliant buttress, they buffer us from the strong winds and soothe us with strains of reassurance when the breezes are light. They provide the beams that support our home, firewood that warms our hearths, and grains that inspire and challenge a budding craftsman at the lathe.

In the signature poem of his collection, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997, Wendell Berry honors these pillars of what to many of us is our spiritual temple. They represent and embrace all of life’s gifts for which the only response can be a grateful heart.

Slowly, slowly, they return to the small woodland let alone: great trees, outspreading and upright, apostles of the living light.

Patient as stars, they build in air tier after tier a timbered choir, stout beams upholding weightless grace of song, a blessing on this place.

They stand in waiting all around, uprisings of their native ground, downcomings of the distant light; they are the advent they await.

Receiving sun and giving shade, their life’s a benefaction made, and is a benediction said over the living and the dead.

In fall their brightened leaves, released, fly down the wind, and we are pleased to walk on radiance, amazed. O light come down to earth, be praised!

Fall 2014 (1)