Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Autumn Embers

Outside the clear glass door comprising one wall of our kitchen, a landscape speaking of the fading embers of autumn diffused its horizon against pale strata of clouds. No painting I have ever seen captured the ponderous life of such a morning. Nor would an artist seek to inscribe its beauty, for the attraction is in the air that drifts between undecided worlds of color, texture, light, and rest. As if worn out by the vital radiance of her early days, the autumn sways along in a stupor, ready for the peaceful hibernation of winter.

Trees mostly bereft of leaves presided over their slain children, today still without a waft of chilling air to stir their brittle stems. Dun grass furled its verdant banners, blades shriveled to hide in the dust until the birth of spring. A front might have been gusting through the reaches of heaven, but stalled in its mission, the blown dunes of cloud hung where its power left them, each its own statement on the threadbare blue sky. Light captured from tangent rays was diverted between the layers, promising the pink of dawn then the subtle gold of dusk, finally covering the whole scene in a vague grey shadow.

Not cheerful or motivating; as George MacDonald would say, not pretty, but beautiful. Afraid to release the grandeur of its parent mountains, the dwindling hills on which my house is set would rather be slowly consumed by the tedium of the plains, creeping like the slow tide towards our door. I would sit in the yard, sit and pray, undistracted by irrepressible beauty, for the day is not for walking or doing. Its lure would capture me.

What cloaks itself in a nature like this? Quest-calling by its disguise, perhaps the founded waiting is the source of its captivation: in-between-ness, as though retreating to no reality at all in complacent anticipation of crisis and glory. Perception demands I see that the courage and triumph is born of the staid prudence of these hours. Seas do not withstand tempests without concealing beneath, their unheeded depths.

JRR Tolkien penned two verses suited by this day, this mood, this verity: “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken; a light from the shadows shall spring. Renewed shall be blade that was broken; the crownless again shall be king.” Perhaps a day like this speaks of an exiled king. Tolkien asked of his poem, what king? George MacDonald took a twin scene from the northwest coast of Scotland and asked, “What chief?” What epic story do the silent rocks evoke?

If I had joined the tale of the day, would I have glimpsed as the sun rose, the carven head of the fallen king coroneted by prophetic gold-flowered vines, the piercing promise of hope before a bleak pilgrimage?

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn


Drew Dixon said...

So you wrote the first part before the Tolkien quote? Thats great writing!

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Thanks. I had just been reading the Highlander's Last Song by George MacDonald, and I think Tolkien got his descriptive writing skills from MacDonald. I was inspired.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Melian said...

Beautiful Lisse. You make me want to read Lord of the Rings yet again =) I'll probably just have to content myself with reading a few of my most favorite parts. Anyway, just wanted to make sure you know I'm still reading and enjoying. See you soon!