Monday, October 8, 2007


This is one of my favorite photos of our time with Doug and Merrie Gresham at Rathvinden House in County Carlow, Ireland. Our boys were small enough three years ago that they could all fit in the wheelbarrow together! But the other reason this is one of my favorite photos is because I love autumn!

In my love of autumn I feel I am in good company. C. S. Lewis often mentioned his enjoyment of the season.

In the first chapter of Surprised by Joy Lewis mentions how his second glimpse of joy came through reading Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin. He says the book troubled him with what he could only describe as the idea of Autumn. "It sounds fantastic to say that one can be enamored of a season, but that is something like what happened; and, as before, the experience was one of intense desire. And one went back to the book, not to gratify the desire (that was impossible--how can one possess Autumn?) but to reawake it."

It is fascinating to note that Lewis's memorable talk with Hugo Dyson and J. R. R. Tolkien, which eventually led to Lewis's conversion, took place in Addison's Walk at Magdalen College, Oxford on an autumn evening. Lewis described the event in a letter to Arthur Greeves on September 22, 1931:

"It was really a memorable talk. We began (in Addison's walk just after dinner) on metaphor and myth -- interrupted by a rush of wind which came so suddenly on the still, warm evening and sent so many leaves pattering down that we thought it was raining. We all held our breath, the other two appreciating the ecstasy of such a thing almost as you would."

Then, in one of the very last letters from Lewis's pen, he wrote to Jane Douglass on 27 October 1963:

"Yes, autumn is really the best of the seasons; and I'm not sure that old age isn't the best part of life. But of course, like autumn, it doesn't last."

One could read that last line assuming a note of despair. But knowing C. S. Lewis, one can't read it that way. He was looking forward to walking through death's door and seeing for the first time what would be on the other side. Apparently autumn, throughout Lewis's life, was a haunting reminder of heaven. And I think it can be so for us as well.

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