In my hometown, Randolph Street is one of the major streets. It connects U.S. 40 on the west side of town to U.S. 40-51 on the east side. But when I was young, Randolph St. hadn't yet been extended to the west and became a quieter street in the Coles Street area, safe for a kid to cross. A grade school friend lived along Randolph (he's still a Facebook friend). Sometimes I'd walk home with him after school and we'd have adventures at his house before my mom picked me up for supper.
I remember one autumn when we played in the fallen leaves in the little park across the street, along Cook Street. One day, my friend buried me in leaves as I lay face down in a ditch. What fun to look around and see nothing but brown and red leaves! My mom was displeased, because I'd gotten so dirty.
One of my devotional guides (Living Faith, Nov. 28, 2013) has a nice image of children and autumn leaves. For adults, the shed leaves are a sign of death, and a chore to rake and discard. Children, on the other hand, see the signs of death as a chance to be happy and to live more fully. The devotion writer noted that we live in the season of end times since Jesus' Ascension, but faith in Jesus gives us the chance to live more fully and to "leap"happily into faith analogous to the way children leap into piled-up leaves.
That's a great image for Advent, which we're beginning this week. Many late-autumn days are gray and most of the trees are barren. But there is a beauty in this chilly season. Death and life belong together, no matter how much we'd like to forget that. But death does not have the last word: new life is to come. We can feel great happiness during this season of transitoriness and promise.