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The Myth of Peak Foliage

October, 2001

Balanced with all consuming world events, the local media has spent the last six week rejoining their annual pinpointing the precise location of peak foliage--that spot where each leaf is both a brilliant color and still hanging on the tree, preferably in dappled sunshine. The roads fill with out-of-state licenses plates driving state and secondary roads looking for that exact spot, camera ready for the perfect shot of the perfect scene of the perfect peak. It's a beautiful time of the year. I understand folks' need to witness and capture it.

It's far from the truth though. There is not a singular spot of perfect beauty in time or space that, captured on film or in the mind's eye can be held onto and saved. Part of the autumn's beauty is in the fluidity. It's organic. It's a process. The color is enhanced by it's ever changing slideto the inevitable of change that enhances the color.

Watching the season's cycle from my car window and trying to wrap my mind around my pacifism and world events I was reminded of a quote by A.J. Muste that moved into t-shirt trite-ism a few years ago: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." It holds a kernel of truth. We need to actively work for peace. Pacifists imply, in our culture at least, a spot--a passive spot. I want to remember to live pacifism--to be a peace maker, active, organic, moving. That is where we will find the grace and beauty of it all. When I search for peace as a spot, as a kind of garden of Eden, I will not find it. The world will invade and I will be constantly drawn away from the place. If I walk the path of peace in my life I come to expect challenges and opportunities; I learn to find joy in the journey.

One of the most powerful books I've read recently has been God Is A Verb by a rabbi, David Cooper. In his exportation of the Kabbalah he talks of the Jewish mystical understanding of God being more process than being, more verb than noun. I like that, and not only because it resolves all those gender issues of God. It both resonates and expands my understanding of the Divine in my life and in the world. How odd that a simple part of speech makes such a large difference. Friends have always found God's presence in work and in some ways God is that work itself.

The beauty of the leaves changing is in the changing. Living a peaceful life is in the living. Experiencing God not as an object but as an organic embracing growth amplifies my sense of beauty and of peace. It's in the making, the doing, the loving, the holding and the cherishing. To search it out as a stagnant point in time is to miss it's mystery and it beauty.

All contents of this page -- Copyright 2001 Carl Williams, All Rights Reserved