The Glory and the Dream

The Glory and the Dream

A dream of glory is captured in this photographer’s ‘golden hour’ moment early on a November day. But it won’t last. Or will it?

Autumn Glory 

  The exquisite autumnal light indicates a new day full of promise in the Forest of Dean. Dry crunchy leaves provide a rich brown autumnal carpet sparkling in the sunlight – a memory of summer’s sun carried in each leaf. This is a great moment to choose for an early morning walk with the dogs.

We watch the leaves in the garden and nearby trees, their moment of colour in the spotlight over, quietly settling in richly coloured carpets on the ground. Acers, cherries, rowans, hazels, hawthorn, ending with the silver birches, always one of the last to join the party. Out in the village children have been gathering up chestnut conkers bursting out of their spiky green jackets, all shiny and new. Now they scuffle through the piles of dried leaves on the way to school.

We share the children’s delight at the riches of autumn where God’s glory shines in red and gold in every leaf and in every sky and sunset.

Ripe rowan berries on tree

Right on cue, as last year, late November’s ‘darkling thrush’, the Mistle Thrush, has arrived. Is it the same bird returning to a remembered feast of late rowan berries? Its rasping alarm call catches my attention as it tries to take possession of the rowan trees to the dismay of the local blackbirds. Everyone and everything building up supplies for winter.

A flock of starlings appears, as if from nowhere, filling a nearby tree with their chattering. Having re-grouped, in a flash they’re off. What was all that about we wonder? Will they be joining some local Sussex coastal murmuration tonight?

Bowl of ripe quince fruit

The last of the summer quince fruits maturing indoors give off their delicious fragrance. There is the fruitful smell of rotting leaves bedding down for the winter and of rich fungi in the woods. The sounds of geese and swans marking the arrival of the winter visitors to the local Arun river. Just some of the sights, sounds and smells of autumn.


Frosted leaf on grass

Fading Glory  –obstinate questionings

But now as we enter the ‘unclothed’ part of autumn a feeling of late November nakedness sets in. There’s change and decay in the air. The countryside is running down towards the shortest day, bringing us darker nights with nipping frosts in the air.

winter before dusk

This is also a season of ‘obstinate questionings’. The recent Remembrance Day a reminder of lives lost in wars, of broken dreams, daily troubles and sorrows still faced by too many in different parts of the world. A renewed sense of the shortness of life. The falling leaves a picture of our transience on this Earth. We hear the melancholic musing of the poets:

Not for these I raise 
The song of thanks and praise 
But for those obstinate questionings 
Of sense and outward things, 
Fallings from us, vanishings; 
Blank misgivings of a Creature 
Moving about in worlds not realised, …..

…. Whither is fled the visionary gleam? 
Where is it now, the glory and the dream
?”

From Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations of Immortality’.
Early morning sunlit glory in wood

An Advent Dream

I look again at this other photo of the Forest of Dean and I see something different now. I see ‘the world charged with the grandeur of God‘ with bright morning light springing in the east full of promise. The gate invites me to explore.


The world is charged with the grandeur of God...”

Yet despite all the damage that we humans have done….

…”There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

From G.M.Hopkin’s poem ‘The Grandeur of God’

Though ‘the last lights off the black West‘ are gone, God has not finished with this ‘bent‘ world. His Spirit has ‘brooded‘ over it with ‘warm breast‘ since the beginning of time.

For the present Creation groans in pain as if in childbirth waiting for its liberation from the bondage of decay (words from Romans 8:22-23). We too, wait for the return of the One who created all things, Christ in shining glory coming back to earth to establish a ‘new heaven and a new earth’.

With Heaven’s brightness an eternity of ‘golden hours’ is coming.

What special moments have marked your autumn this year? 

Next time – join me for a look at our village’s life in winter.

The two images of the Forest of Dean are by Jonathan Billinger

9 thoughts on “The Glory and the Dream

  1. This has been a difficult autumn for me but there have been some bright moments of joy for which I am very thankful. Thank you for this beautiful post, Richard.
    Your picture of a bowl of quinces has not appeared, unfortunately.

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    1. So sorry to hear about your difficulties, Clare. I do hope things improve for you soon. I can’t think what has happened to the quinces photo (a bowl of our glowing yellow fruit in a sun- lit basket). Wishing you and yours better times ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful meditation on the transition of these seasons Richard – perhaps I love this time of year so because it has so many layers and meanings – that golden, transformative light of autumn and then the yearning and waiting for the return of the light. It seems that it has passed very quickly this year – I’ve enjoyed the transition though am feeling very weary now – looking forward to a break soon for Christmas.

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    1. ‘Layers and meanings’ and ‘golden transformative light’-I like that. Autumn is indeed such a rich time and for me so full of Advent promise. Being retired I have the privilege of staying inside in the warm in winter and getting down to some more creative reading and thinking. I hope you will get enough time-off to do the same. Best wishes, Andrea.

      Liked by 1 person

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