Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
--St. Michael in Time of Peace, G.K. Chesterton
This is the time of the year where, back in the Middle West, maples are turning red, and oaks are turning gold and red, like angels' wings or tongues of flame. They are banners of a changing world. The wind shakes the trees, their trembling music becomes a grand and glorious drum-roll for the nascent eschaton, shrouded by the storm clouds on the horizon. We are on the verge.
This is the time of year that the steady stream of tourists in Midtown slows slightly. The symphony and French and German chatter that fills Central Park is muffled now. We are no longer inundated with a thousand school groups in matching t-shirts or loud tour groups charging up 5th avenue. There is a lull, before the storm of ThanksgivingChristmastime.
Above our house shown the red blood moon, eclipsed by the shadow of the earth. The moon has stolen all the color from the leaves. The leaves are falling before they have a chance to turn. The paths are littered with green and brown leaves. A few have streaks of gold.
This is the time of year where, in small little alcoves by lakes, sitting on benches together under lamplight in the wee hour of the night, walking together through crunching autumn leaves and lilting blue sky, people begin to fall in love. This is the irrational season: where something in the turning of the world turns our hearts. The crisp air whets appetites, smiles are exchanged across glowing bonfires, hands find each other in corduroy jackets. Couples take shelter from autumn storms under the same umbrella; and they laugh together as the world rumbles beneath them, turning, turning.
There always seems to be a season for falling in love. It's always high holy spring or the cold of Christmas time or this part of the year--this strange interim--this corridor between summer and autumn. The antechamber of the year.
The ember days and Yom Kippur have come and gone, and now it's just one feast day on top of the other; Sukkot and Michaelmas and Our Lady of the Rosary: all of these great feasts celebrating something essential, sacred, ineffable, and grand.
This is autumn: archangels and winds of change, and harvest moons hanging in the sky, stained red with blood. Nature is charging forward to its glorious end, and it never seems more fully alive than now, when it is dying.