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Epiphany by Ed Rinderle

By Edward A. Rinderle
Posted: 12/28/2022

Recently, on a cool November afternoon, I took a short walk to check on some trees in our neighborhood.  They were tall with white trunks, probably something in the birch or alder family.  I found that their names didn't matter.  What mattered was the beauty of their transformation.

For a few weeks prior I'd tracked them every few days as they transitioned from their summer green to their autumn hues.  The transition was slow, fueling my impatience.  But two days before, we had a good rain and cooling temperatures, so I wondered if the weather had sped up their metamorphosis.  

I was not disappointed.  The six trees displayed the entire transition in one glorious scene.  One tree's leaves were still entirely green.  Others featured a mixture of green and shades of red, from pink to deep crimson.  But it was the tree closest to the curb that stood out most, all of its leaves emitting a fiery glow.  I feasted my eyes on that tree, basking in its glory.   Then, noticing the abundance of leaves piled on the ground beneath the tree, I stooped to collect a few of the best.  With my treasure in hand, I headed for home.  

But then something unexpected happened.  The warm sun and cool breeze grabbed hold of me and beckoned me past my home and on beyond, where more wonders waited.  

First, a chorus of chirping, warbling, and tweeting sang in my ears.  I couldn't spot the birds, but it didn't matter.  Their songs were more than enough.

Next I spotted a plant arrayed with Birds of Paradise blooms.  I studied them closely; never before had I really appreciated the beauty of their strange complexity.  These unique flowers called to mind an incident with my Mom from way back.  During a visit from far away New Orleans, she returned from a walk excited about her discovery of a magnificent flower she'd never seen before.  Her description was quite clear:  the flower was a Bird of Paradise.  Her enthusiasm was contagious, bringing joy to me and the rest of the family.  (Dear, dear Mom.  Rest In Peace, and thanks for visiting me on my walk.)

As I continued on, I stopped to stroke the branch of a nearby bush.  I recognized the greenery as some kind of herb, though I couldn't remember its name.  It felt like velvet.  I lifted my hand to my nose; one sniff and its fragrance filled my head with it spicy sweetness.  

Next the trees overhead got into the act.  The sound of the breeze flowing through their leaves and branches.  The grace with which the branches danced in the gently moving air.  A small tree just ahead, every leaf twinkling in the sunlight. 

As I turned to head for home, I felt a strange “presence” filling my core.  It felt like I had suddenly been wrapped in a warm blanket.  The heat rose within me and tingled on my skin.  As the tingling subsided, it left behind a feeling of comfort and peace.  Within a minute of two, the feeling was gone, but I felt certain that this “presence” would visit me again; all I needed to do was to pay attention.  

As I neared home, I couldn't help but think that I may never again take a walk just for the exercise.  For there is so much more to see, hear, touch, smell.    

Back at home, I carefully placed the leaves on the mantel.  As I enjoyed that little display, I thought again about that “presence”, that Mystery, looking forward to when we shall meet again.  

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