Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Poem?

Autumn’s Fruits
By Chad Sparks
January 6, 2009

With autumn leaves, more color glares:
   Apples, grapes, persimmons, pears! 
My favorite time of year you are.
   In winter longing from afar 
The icy wind blows through the boughs
   I see my breath and hear snowplows. 
Beyond the feast of Christmastide
   The days grow short, dark clouds abide. 
The springtime and her fragrant blooms
   Woven on God Almighty’s looms 
Do not compare to fall’s sweet fruits
   ‘Een though the trees dress in pink suits. 
The summer comes with heat and storm
   Mosquitoes, flies, and gnats all swarm. 
Sweat, humidity, and haze
   Make my heart long for the days 
Of harvest season’s tasty wares
   Apples, grapes, persimmons, pears!

I’m not a poet. I rarely read poetry. But I do write things in verse from time to time—things that are usually kept between God and me. Poetry is an ancient form of expression that seems less popular than it once was. I’m not sure why.

I first wrote this poem when my daughter Duncan had an art assignment to find a poem she liked and to paint several pictures in response. However, getting the proverbial cart before the horse, she really wanted to paint pictures of fruit and figured that she would be able to easily find a poem about fruit so she just began painting. When the assignment’s due date drew near, she began searching for a poem and could not find one. The whole family searched. Finally, the night before it was due, Duncan went to bed in tears. I decided I’d just try to write one for her. I began just fooling around, using the fruit in her paintings (Apples, oranges, cherries, and pears). As it developed, I started thinking about it and my heart began to get into it. I do love Autumn and the fruits thereof. I chose to change the oranges and cherries to more appropriate fall fruits for East Tennessee (oranges don’t grow here and cherries come out in early summer). Grapes and persimmons grow wild and are fruits that I have frequently enjoyed in the woods as I grew up. Apples and pears are dear to my heart as fall fruits—my grandparents had trees with both, and fall was a time that they made jellies, pies, and other delectables. Fall is my favorite time of year for many reasons: football, hunting, leaves changing color, climate. But there were some deeper symbols emerging as I wrote.

I began to consider the different “seasons” in life. The autumn of life is what I am entering. I have passed the spring (childhood and youth) and summer (college, marriage, and young adulthood). I have kids who are growing older quickly. It is that season of life that we tend to long for all our lives a time we enjoy the “fruit” of our labor, education, and decisions. Truth is, I love this season of life. I find I do not want it to pass. I savor every day as I do fall and its fruits. I do not look forward to “winter” when I will surely long for that season just gone by, when health is fleeting, home is empty of kids, and limbs are cold. Spring (childhood and youth) is a wonderful time. All is abloom. Sovereign God is the one who made us and gives us gifts that grow into the rewards (fruit) of adulthood. Young adulthood (summer) is hot (with activity and passion) and stormy. There are many hazards and discomforts amongst the otherwise good bustle. Finding a mate, having children, starting a career, moving, etc. are par for the course. They make us long for when the fruit ripen, days shorten, weather moderates, colors appear with vigor, and harvest.

On an even deeper level, fall can also serve as a spiritual metaphor. Notice the order: icy, dark winter can symbolize the death and emptiness of a person in sin before regeneration. Springtime is that period after new birth. It is full of color and excitement. God is the one who gives forgiveness and life. Summer is when great growth occurs but with it come the bugs and heat and storm of reality as the newness of the faith wears off. Haze symbolizes the way black and white can seem to become grey when the believer is exposed to the influence of less-than-committed Christians and less-than-biblical compromises. Then harvest comes. In truth, there are many “harvests” for the Christian. Many come early. Some like trees and vines take years of patient cultivation before bearing fruit. But they keep bearing year after year, indeed for eternity!

Duncan turned in the poem with her art and the teacher liked it. Duncan didn’t even know that I had written it. Kind of cool!

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