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God, Creation, And Autumn: A Meditation

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God, Creation, and Autumn

by Mike




It is now October, and Fall is conveying its intimations of Winter here in Pennsylvania. This recurring shift in climate is unfailing to remind me that life is becoming; life is here and now, and gone.


With an offering called Autumn,

Winter sets in.

Chilled bones;

hot tea.


Autumn has long been my favorite season because of its bracing, and strangely nurturing, melancholy. It strikes me as a supremely poetic time of year: all life converges on a deeply felt anticipation of the solitude that awaits. This, to me, is natural magic; messages of the divine are woven throughout the sacred interiority of earth and sky -- and each tree that weds the two in holy sympathy. Autumn prepares my heart for the Advent of Christ into the world once more.


The seasons themselves need not be viewed as symbols of anything, for it is their very intimacy -- the depth of creative magic to be found therein -- that constitutes their sacred meaning. Each phenomenon of life, just as it abides in its own expression or self-presence, is a carrier of its own meaning, but not "meaning" in any ordinary sense. It is a meaning so inexhaustible in its immanence that it is gone beyond -- beyond this world, beyond this time, and yet -- or rather, because of this -- it is the very manifesting of the world and time.


There has always been very much speculative debate about the issue of “creation,” the theoretical point at which being and time (or being-time, as Dogen termed it, since the two are not independent) began. But the thought came to me that such a debate is itself nothing other than the laughter of the Divine. Creation isn’t something that happened “then.” Creation is always here and now: the beginningless beginning. The seasons, Autumn -- this Autumn -- bears this witness.


Traditional theology has seen God as “unmoved mover.” This need not belong to the realm of the purely speculative. John Keenan, by way of explanation, notes that God moves without moving because he is the “unconditioned act to be”: a verb, a “pure act.”(Keenan 74). Rather than speculation, I think this amounts to an eminently practical religious understanding of the nature of things. I personally take it to mean that God is the true Presence or “Presencing” of Reality.


It is a vision of Reality not content to let space, time and being alone, isolated on their "own side,” but one which draws them into an unobstructed intimacy which is itself the supreme meaning of existence. Its "supremacy" lies not in its being imposed from the outside, as from some distant being (like the 'rulers and principalities of this world'), but rather in that it knows no independent existence. In other words, it is supreme just because it is not distant. It does not oppose individuality -- the particularity of Autumn, for instance, or each sounding note of a wind chime -- or, say, the peculiarity of a divine Nativity in Bethlehem. It is nothing other than the purity of these in their utter givenness, transparency, radical proximity and openness.


Robert Aitken once remarked that Autumn leaves are thoughts: carried by the wind, they float, without roots. I once took this to be metaphor, but now I think it may be quite true to way things actually are.


I have offered these thoughts not as dogma or because I think they must be accepted as true, but as one way of approach to be considered. So friends, in closing I leave you with an Autumn Prayer...



Lord God,

Winter approaches;

I am once again reminded

that all things must pass

because all things are empty.

Yet the gentle mourning of Autumn

is not without this prayerful consolation:

that even the bitterest season

can be met with selfless joy;

a joy which is your truth,

your love,

your Face.









Keenan, John. “Refuting Some Buddhist Arguments about Creation and Adopting Buddhist Philosophy About Salvation.” from the book Buddhism, Christianity and the Question of Creation: Karmic or Divine?

Edited by Mike
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