by Linda Post Bushkofsky
I GREW UP IN NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, in the mountains where the fall colors are outstanding. They do not always receive the same publicity that New England trees do, but they are beautiful, nonetheless. When I moved to the Upper Midwest, I was surprised by how much I missed the range of reds, rusts, oranges and golds I’d grown up with. Eventually I came to appreciate the subtle color changes in prairie grasses that signaled cooler, fall days.
There’s so much I appreciate about autumn. The cool, crisp air. The way sunlight illuminates marigolds in a beautifully different way than it does midsummer. The changing colors of leaves and grasses, some boisterous, some barely noticeable. Cozy sweaters and warm apple cider. It’s always been my favorite season.
It’s no surprise, then, that The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, a children’s book written by Leo Buscaglia, is among my favorites. As with many great works of children’s literature, the message is as much for adults as for children. Freddie and the much wiser Daniel are leaves on a tree, watching other leaves fall to the ground one autumn. Freddie admits he fears dying. Daniel reminds him that though they will die, “life lasts forever and we’re part of it.” Freddie is the last leaf to fall from the tree. As he lands softly on the ground below, he realizes that in the tree and in the soil, plans for next spring already are present and life goes on.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a touching allegory of life and death that has helped countless children and adults experience grief. Before Daniel and Freddie fall to the ground, Daniel encourages Freddie to remember their experiences earlier in the year. The sun, the shade, the breeze, the people who came to their tree: these are to be remembered and celebrated.
Whether we are talking about autumn on our calendars or the autumn of our lives, we have much to remember and celebrate. All Saints Day will soon be upon us. We will remember the saints, named and unnamed, official and ordinary, people whose lives helped shape our own lives of faith. Have you thought about honoring or remembering women from your congregational unit? Name each woman. Light a candle for each. Share a story or remembrance about each woman. Conclude by singing “For All the Faithful Women” (ELW 419) or a similar hymn. Where appropriate, collect an offering and send it to the churchwide women’s organization in honor or memory of the named women. It would be a fitting contribution to 2122: Growing Katie’s Fund for the next 100 years (www.welca.org/katiesfund).
Such a remembrance would be appropriate around All Saints Day or any other time. It is never out of season to remember those who live and die in the faith and who have been examples for us.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.
This appears in the September/October 2022 issue. To read more articles like it, subscribe to Gather
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