The Autumn of Our Lives

[ 5 ] Comments

by Jan

While driving through the mountains on a crisp beautiful autumn day, I viewed the splash of brilliant colors in all their beauty. While not quite as magnificent as an east coast display with its giant purple red maple leaves mixed among the yellow, orange, and rich browns that make up a true autumn spectacular, Utah has its share of brilliant yellow quakies and vibrant red scrub oak. Those colors, against the solid deep green of pine trees, are really quite breathtaking. This time of year definitely subjects our senses to an earthy beauty we all look forward to. All over the world, autumn speaks rich color and hue.

While taking in these striking scenes, we may be convinced of the apparent message of earth’s burial ground. These leaves, once fresh, youthful, and green have lived the summer of their lives, and now enter into earth’s death throes. But as winter sets in, colors fading and crumbling to feed the earth with a final promise, we still have the certainty of the circle continuing along its course. It’s only a short wait until buds begin to form reawakening life once again, and so Jesus Christ’s gift continues season after season, this beautiful world with all its treasure of life, and death, then life again. So the question arises: Is a life well-lived worth it only to have autumn come again and again?

My husband and I serve in a care facility where about forty people attend Church every Sunday, and another twenty or so linger in bed, unable to join us for any meetings. Those who are able, come to meetings bringing the Spirit with them. We may be the ones who prepare the Sacrament, the service, and the program, but there is no doubt that because of the lives they have led, the purifying trials they have overcome, and the one path they have chosen to follow, they are the ones who always have the Spirit with them, easily sharing it with the rest of us. We have evidenced with our very hearts that our loving Heavenly Father has not forgotten these faithful servants. In fact, we know for a surety that He carries them during these autumnal moments; moments that still demand endurance to the very end, when that last golden leaf swirls to its final resting place.

These older and wiser children of our Heavenly Father have proven faithful and stand to declare pure witness and testimony of the Plan of Salvation during the equinox of their lives.

Personalities are long forged, experience is gently chiseled, but testimony’s autumn color blazes forth triumphant. The body is stooped, the senses are dim, but faith’s vibrant foliage unfurls. Pain wraps its warped fingers securely around limbs and heart, but patience must hold on to be that final leaf that holds fast: the final conqueror.

There are more sisters than brothers, but as one brother says in every prayer he gives, “May we offer to help those around us who are in need of assistance.” Testimonies that are borne each month recall the moment of conversion, their new start in a gospel they have loved so dearly. Gratitude flows warming the wash of frost that threatens their brittle bed of leaves. These are the enduring servants of the Lord, now made supple in His hands, as they wait upon His final word to call them home.

There is a woman who has been deaf all her life. Here she is, having endured a partial world, full of grace and diligence. She comes to our Family Home Evening, not because she can hear the lesson, but because she feels the Spirit that is there. As we study the Book of Mormon together, I sit next to her with a pad of paper and write down parts of the lesson discussion as she scans the chapters we read beyond her hearing. For her, the Spirit is a worthy reward. She nods with understanding and she sparkles when we discuss a doctrine previously underlined in her book from personal journeys through the written word. She communicates her testimony clearly for the Spirit brings us all together.

Another woman continuously forgets where she is and where she’s going. However, in a classroom discussion, she contributes truths of the gospel, making absolute sense to all who will hear. Her mind, though faded, has been sharpened by years of gospel practice never to be diminished.

Those who are unable to attend Sacrament Meeting receive the Sacrament in their beds. This is a treasured experience for those of us who extend this great gift offered by our Redeemer. With watery eyes glistening their thanks they accept the bread and water as my husband places each to their lips. It is evident they remember their eternal covenant with the Savior of us all. To the very end they offer their own radiant souls so like the vibrant color of those leaves lying helpless, yet beautiful, upon the ground.

These brothers and sisters will soon cross the bar into their Springtime of Eternity, all because our Brother gave us a new life when he gave up His own. He waits for us still as our own colors turn from chartreuse to radiant orange, yellow to golden brown, and green to fiery red. An explosion of righteousness, our bodies a testament of our choices and attitudes in life, sealed with the peace He can only give.

Our Savior saved us, making us beautiful in each season, because we believe we can live with Him every season forever and ever.

With these experiences I have often wondered how my testimony will show its color, if and when my mind goes. When I have no more control over my body will my leaves fall in the shape of my Savior? Will my Spirit be strong enough so I can finish well?

  • Will yours?

 

 

 

About Jan

I’m a wife, mother, grandma, former Church Museum docent, and incurable volunteer. I also research all things Relief Society at ldswomenofgod.

5 Responses to The Autumn of Our Lives

  1. Sarah says:

    My goal is to shine radiant to the very end. Thank you for such beautiful imagery; I may never look at autumn the same way again.

    • Jan says:

      Thank you. Having spent time at another care facility where residents weren’t quite as devoted to any religion, the difference was stark. Most everyone was miserable, hopeless, and depressed. I’m with you. I want my beauty to radiate to the very end. It will make me, and everyone else, much happier.

  2. Ray says:

    Beautiful message, Jan.

    My wife is a CNA at a nursing home, and she wonders sometimes what kind of resident she will be if she ends up in that situation herself. I tell her that it really doesn’t matter – that we can hope she would be the same kind, caring, loving person, but that if her mental health doesn’t allow that to be the case we will love her just as much, anyway.

    The elderly deserve our active love (as a verb) and care – and SO many don’t get it. That breaks my heart.

    • Jan says:

      And not just at Christmas time, right?

      Seeking peace clearly makes a difference in how happy you are as an older person. Those who have unresolved anger are angry and very hard to be around, while those who are repentant and happy are just happier. But either way, you are right, every person needs to know someone cares.

      At this other care facility there were some very difficult people that I actually grew very close to. I wouldn’t call them radiant spirits, because I could see they needed to go through some cleansing and purifying, but I loved them anyway.

  3. Paul says:

    Jan, thanks for sharing this lovely account. Until my parents were in this particular phase of their lives, I was pretty blind to what folks this these could do for me. My parents have now passed, and I suppose it won’t be too many more decades before I am giving my children a chance to learn the same lesson. May I do as well as my parents did.

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