A guide to fall colors

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2022

By Allan Purtill

Tryon Presbyterian Church

It’s my fourth fall in Tryon, and this place is beginning to feel like home.  Cultivating a sense of belonging, or place for that matter takes many turns around the sun.  Shared experiences layer upon each other and connections are affirmed with familiar gestures and glances.  I remember arriving in the fall of 2019 and wondering with the mountains around us the changes that would come.  

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September brings colors that paint a new season.  The yellow buses return to our neighborhoods and streets.  Flashes of bright orange stretch out over resting fields.  We watch our local team march onto playing field dressed uniformly in blue and white.  (A few desperate fans hold out hope for a team on a distant hill parading in shades of light blue, a sky that is.)  The long dark shadows of afternoons remind us of where we are in our orbit on this Tilt-A-Whirl called home, and we stir from our beds waiting to see the sun’s first light.

I’m not much for physics, but I remember in the college lab being captivated by the principles of light.  The colors we see are those rays reflected by the objects that hold our attention.  Picking a yellow apple, we observe how the skin absorbs the wavelengths of all the other colors in the spectrum.  Like those first parents of creation, we are drawn to take and eat this yellow orb, golden and delicious.  Grabbing a sheet of printing paper we experience the reflection of all the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum together, a brilliant white.  A quick turn of the pitchfork in the pile of compost by the garden exposes the rich black topsoil.  Even in utter darkness nature is fueling combustible fibers for next year’s growth.  

It’s the beginning of something new, but we also observe that some of the changes around us were already underway.  In churches, some gather for worship with a new baby while others rejoice on a new knee or hip.  People meet up in coffee shops after long absences noticing who is missing and greeting warmly those who have arrived.   Community choirs enjoy stimulating music and the return of faithful voices.  Families eat around tables with an additional empty chair as students return to distant campuses.   Work brings growth or cuts.   Friends tackle heart-wrenching diagnoses. Maybe, just maybe too, we all are experiencing a change of mind about one thing or another.  It’s easy to get a little melancholy during times of transition, all the more reason to spend more time in the light.

The Christian faith is rich in its variety and use of color.  The first light of creation, the rainbow of God’s promise, Jacob’s Technicolor dream coat, the red stains on the lintel posts of the Israelites, the purple tones of cedar that lined the ancient temple, the white lilies by the field where Jesus preached, the blues of the healing Pool of Siloam, and the rich and varied palette of the faces of the people who drew near to Jesus and are drawn still.

Looking for direction as you enter the fall? Let us turn and follow the light leading us each day, wherever we are, revealing the beauty of creation and grace in every conversation.  Listen to the perspective of another who may give us needed insight.   Hear the light of truth.  Let radiant joy spread as we sing a song of praise under stained glass or clap our hands in a tree-lined cathedral.  May you see the light of love in everyone you meet, and may they see the light of love in you.