First Gentle Brush Strokes of Autumn

AT THE CHURCH O THE PINES, a soft breeze ruffles the surface of the Church moat (Mississippi). The forest is painted with the first gentle brush strokes of autumn. Even the pines begin to show the gold that will soon gild all the ground below. There is a turning—not only of colors but of season, as summer has tossed her hair and waved goodbye. Some of our congregation have already left for warmer latitudes, and others will not wait much longer. They will be missed.

But the church choir continues on with familiar hymns, anchored by everyone’s favorite soloist, Sparky the Cardinal. Sparky doesn’t know it yet—and may not care—but he will be featured in an essay in the next book. Meanwhile the jays and squirrels squall from the highest limbs, and a pileated woodpecker laughs uproariously at some private joke, somewhere deep in the woods. It is usually frowned upon to laugh out loud in church. But in this humble chapel no one seems to mind. It is, after all, a fairly easygoing congregation, and the parson has been know to laugh at inappropriate moments as well. Whoever you find peace and a welcoming spirit, and perhaps a little humor, we wish you Good Sabbath!

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