We've hit the point in fall where things are beginning to actually look like the season. Leaves are changing colors, and some are already dropping off; I've even seen a few bare trees. Soon the temperature will drop and stay cool. Fall is a beautiful season, to be sure, but its beauty is born of death. Indeed, it's always struck me as odd that the season with the most natural beauty is the season of death and dying.
For the next few months, we will be surrounded by death and even celebrate it -- and decry it. We love the colors of all, but even when the leaves are green and healthy, the rest of the world is not, and it's that side of things which wounds our hearts. We see sickness and death everywhere. Hospitals and funeral homes aren't going out of business anytime soon, sadly. Preachers will always have to make sick calls and deliver eulogies. It's the one rule of life: it always ends in death.
Our world is also dead in its sins. Regardless of public opinion or man-made law, right is right, and wrong is wrong still. That used to mean something, and the thought of one's sins becoming public knowledge was a strong deterrent in and of itself. Now we have parades to celebrate them. Yes, our world is dead and dying in sin.
But it's still our world, the one God gave us to tend and steward. We are still called to show life among the dying, to be salt and light even in the darkest of times. God will never leave us or forsake us; the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church; and we are heirs of eternal life. We may be pilgrims and sojourners in a world of death, but we have the promise of eternal life in a land forever untouched by sin, death, and sickness. Those things last but for a season and then will pass away. Heaven is eternal.
And that will be the most beautiful place of all.