Faith Focus: Enjoying the poignant small moments of autumn

Anna McCrum.

Anna McCrum. - Credit: Archant

Did you know that the smell of the earth after rain has a name? It is petrichor – a word first used in the 1960s which defines the dispersal of oils in dry soil into the air following rain.

For me this is the smell of September, the month where we are drawn away from summer heat towards the autumn mists and damp of autumn. I love it!

To me autumn is a sensory feast – deciduous trees offer a show of colour before the leaves fall in flurries, the heady scent of wet grass and earth, the vibrancy of dahlias, zinnias and other late flowers and if we are lucky the chill crisp air against our faces in the morning. 

This year these small moments when we can experience autumn feel poignant. Many of us in St Albans, Harpenden and further afield have experienced terrible loss in the last six months. Each of us is grieving at some level for the absence of people we love or our pre-Covid lives.

For some the return to school or the beginning of university or college life has been a blessing yet also unfamiliar with routines and opportunities to socialise restricted. Whilst we understand the reasons, for us social beings these changes take their toll and can lead to anxiety and a sense of isolation and loneliness.

So to be able to walk out of our doors and sense the beginnings of a new season is reassuring. For gardeners part of the delight of tending to plants, is that sense of hope that comes with investing in the future. Just to take a walk in the park now is a pleasure that many of us are seeing anew. Seeing ourselves as part of the rhythm of nature is consoling.

So if you can this week, try and experience and enjoy the simple joy of an autumn walk. And for those of you for whom this is not possible I offer the opening words of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”

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Anna McCrum lives in St Albans and works for the Methodist Church in London as a media officer.