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Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Roman Catholic priest, once wrote a short poem about a young girl saddened by the way leaves change color in autumn, then shrivel and fall from the tree:

Margaret, are you grieving 
Over Goldengrove unleaving?

He explains to his young friend that as she grows, this annual display will no longer trouble her:

“as the heart grows older,
it will come to such sights colder
by and by, nor spare a sigh.”

As the poem ends, he hints that Margaret’s mind does not yet understand why the falling leaves make her so sad, but that her spirit has already guessed. They warn her of her own eventual, inevitable death:

“It is the blight man was born for
It is Margaret you mourn for.”

It is natural to feel this way. As our Eucharistic Prayer for November says, we live “surrounded by evil and bordered by death.”

But Hopkins does not name the most important thing: that this death is not the end.  As in spring the trees will turn green again, so we Christians trust that after we have fallen, we shall be raised up, better and more beautiful than before.

November’s dry, bare trees may look like death. But to us who know the signs of the times, they are the promise of new life in Jesus Christ.

View the entire November newsletter