The last few leaves remaining on the beech tree. A few survived the autumnal cull, a few more clung on through the frostiest nights… but now it is all over bar the final flutter.
New buds and shoots are forming in the longer light and warmer airs. They will put fresh pressure on old joints, and the “old guard” are already colourfully crisp and comatose. Out with the old, and in with the new!
A strange dignity still attaches to the persistent remnant. Cracks may be showing, but the colour is bold in the warm Spring-like Sun. Bright copper flags salute the change of seasons; a bit like the Chelsea Pensioners, whose courage and colourful garb is also a testimony to brave history.
Soon the fresh bright greens and bronzes of new shoots and buds will herald a resurrection of the tree. Birds, insects, squirrels and kids will riotously greet Spring and Summer as the sap rises and mantles the park with soft curtains of juicy foliage.
Marking their passing feels right. Their service is recorded and honoured in a photograph that sustains memory. The boldness of colour defies the Winter.
Christians will soon be turning thoughts towards the Easter narrative- a bold, brave Son of Man who challenges crusty traditions; who confronts hypocrisy and encourages obedient faithfulness. Perhaps we need to mark the “Last Rites” of old thinking and weary battles: we can do so by honouring the best of what has gone before and clearing a Way toward newness of Life. On Good Friday the finest Leaf of humanity will fall to the dust- then Resurrection Life bursts out of the graveyard to challenge the world to joyful exuberance. The seasons must roll on. Old-but-honoured frailties will be renewed, re-created in splendid new clothes. The Old must pass on, and the New Wine will celebrate the Hope that can never fade away.
Last Rites of Winter? OR a Call to Eternal Worship? In your life, it’s your choice. Choose well.