Though I dislike the autumn and see it basically as a harbinger of the death of winter, there is something moving - nostalgic, even - to the smell of fallen leavens, as anyone who has known their scent can attest. But, if we are honest, that same smell is the smell of decay, the stench of death.
This month of November continually calls us to remember what we hear on Ash Wednesday: "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Memento mori has long been the anthem of this month. Remember death.
All of this is beautifully expressed in a song shared recently by the Clerk of Oxford. It is titled "The Life of a Man" and includes lyrics such as this:
What's the life of a man, any more than a leaf?Have a listen:
A man has his seasons, so why should we grieve?
Oh now in this life we appear fine and gay
Like the leaf we must wither and soon fade away.
Saint Damien of Moloka'i used to say, "We must all die ... So let us begin from this day to prepare for a happy death. Let us not lose a moment of the little time we still have to live."
The angel of the Church in Sardis today says, "Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die" (Revelation 3:2). Why wait?