restricted access The Old Church, and: Autumn Rain, and: Autumn Leaves, and: Winter Trees
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The Old Church, and: Autumn Rain, and: Autumn Leaves, and: Winter Trees

the old church

Let’s go into the old church and listen to the organ. Let’s enter quietly beside the choir’s bass notes, which once hung low over the church’s floor. No wind can shake the stillness, so what can be making the flames on the thick wax candles tremble? Let’s recall the phrases of the prayer offered up, hands clasped, when first I learned to pray. How far away have I moved from the fervor of those days? By the time I reached the fifth line of the prayer, my ardor would be stronger, and after I had sung two or three verses of a hymn, the tears streaming from my eyes would take me to a place I still remember. Now, kneeling down, I entrust myself once more to humility, remembering the sunlight that used to filter through the stained glass and observe me, and in my moments of meditation recollecting the people, some of course no longer here on earth. I wonder if they think of me at times of forgiveness and sacrifice. That place, where I used to walk slowly step by step, awkwardly, as if being swept forward by those in the long line going up to receive communion, the old church within me. [End Page 56]

autumn rain

Today, autumn rain is falling in the place where yesterday we were together in love.

In the forest that we loved, as we stood side by side and loved one another, leaves are falling.

Here, where yesterday we loved and today leaves fall, I still yearn. If tomorrow I leave this place, the wind will be alone.

And while the wind is blowing, many others who will meet, love, and part, and yearn, will live in this world, then depart.

The flowers that yesterday were blooming in the place where we were together in love, are dying in the rain. [End Page 57]

autumn leaves

Once autumn is over and icy winds blow, the heavens freeze and every tree in the forest becomes constrained by the cold, and the trees thicken with snow and try to stamp their feet. Even then, if you look carefully, there are trees still clutching a few autumn leaves they could not part with, and like those leaves there is a sad hope that people in their life can never part with. Throughout winter there is a yearning the trees won’t part with. No one can recall the days when the forest was bright with green   leaves and because the seasons of the world have changed to winter, we believe it’s normal to forget the past— yet there are trees that retain a belief that before life ends, the green will return, that buds will appear on branches seemingly dead, and that even though their flowers will once again die, we have no choice but to wait for rebirth, and that way our lives become full. The futile hope we can never part with, the green yearning we ourselves cannot let go of, the expectation that makes us ache to the very soles of our feet . . .

winter trees

On seeing trees gaunt and bare after losing their leaves, who will say that their lives were in vain? On seeing trees stripped of their fruit by an icy wind, who says that they lived mistakenly? Haven’t those naked trees stood guard over the mountains and created a protective forest? Haven’t they devoted their best days to guarding insignificant hills and great mountain ranges alike? Don’t thoughtlessly say of an empty, birdless nest on a naked branch: It’s finished. Don’t glibly say: It’s failed. There was an entire generation who in pain and sorrow stood guard even as they witnessed mountains destroyed one by one, and gave up their youth, enduring and not yielding, believing their devotion would be needed in many places . . . [End Page 58]

Brother Anthony of Taizé

Brother Anthony of Taizé has published more than thirty volumes of translations of Korean...

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