The “raggedness” of Autumn

Spiders web at LEAF

“If you like things tidy, this may not feel like a good time.” says Ian Adams in his blog

Autumn is a messy time – leaves fall from the trees to cover grass and pavements, the last of the summer flowers drop their petals leaving them looking like someone who’s losing their teeth or a wooly jumper that’s being unpicked and unravelled, and somehow the greens of summer are growing paler as they turn to the reds and browns of Autumn, even in the urban surrounds of Parson Cross the change is visible. Autumn has a kind of “raggedness” to it – like it’s a between place, a time when things unwind or reach their limits, it’s a time when quite frankly things start to look worn out.

That feeling of “raggedness” reminded me of a book I’d read some time ago by Brennan Manning called “The Raggamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggeled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out”. In the book Manning repeatedly cries out for those of us who recognise that we are ragged – that all of us struggle with parts of ourselves that we wish weren’t quite as “messy” as they actually are. Whatever that messiness might be: a real addiction, a raging anger, a bad temper, a broken heart, a constant desire to put off the difficult, a feeling of guilt, or a feeling of guilt for feeling guilty …. so many of us have lives that are messy and ragged. Manning offers a clear picture that through Jesus we can see that Gods love is big enough, powerful enough to love each one of us – as we are, messy-ness and “raggedness” included – to love us and change us through that love, not into mistake free perfect people, but into people who have learned to love and learned to love those who we see are also ragged, also messy – who need that love just as much as we do.

Blackberries in Parson Cross

And so, the messiness of Autumn can also bring us signs of that same hope for change – first we recognise that this is a season and like all seasons it is a part of life and death, a part of creation, a part of God. We can recognise that even amongst the mess and fading summer colour there are still bursts of life: so we can be glad that the blackberries are just coming into their prime with all the deep dark beauty and goodness, that the elderberries are providing food for the birds and the potential of jam and wine and cordials to us, that the apple trees are ready for their rich harvest, and to know that the journey to another Spring is already about to begin. The cycle continues, the seed that falls to the ground now to die will soon be in fact be changed into a plant that next Spring will bring new life …..

….. So with the equinox sun on us we went out blackberrying, there really is something I love about blackberries and blackberrying, quite apart from the thought of them served up in a crumble!


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