The falling leaves

Like clothes, every body will wear out,
the age-old law is, “Everyone must die.”
Like foliage growing on a bushy tree,
some leaves falling, others growing,
so are the generations of flesh and blood:
one dies, another is born.

Sirach 14: 18-20

The Falling Leaves
with a constant chorus of cicadas
the leaves tumble down,
from long, thin silver poplars,
they twirl to the ground,
dancing the Autumn death dance
beneath the great blue sky.

the leaves seem glad at the going.
(is there something I don’t know?)
Sparkling in the October sunshine,
they fill the air with gentle rustling.

one, then another and another,
on they skim down from above,
bedding the forest table before me
with comforting crunches and crackles.

this gigantic death scene of leaves
does not smell of sorrow and sadness,
rather, the earth is colored with joy
and the leaves make music in the wind.

why is this dance of death so lovely?
why do leaves seem so willing to go?
are they whispering to each other,
urging one another to be freed?
maybe “you first and then I’ll follow”
or: “you can do it, go ahead”
supporting one another gladly
in their call to final surrender.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

I have not yet discovered the secret
of the serenity of sailing leaves;
every autumn I walk among them
with a longing that stretches forever,
wanting to face that death-dance
and the truth of my own mortality.


SIGN UP NOW to receive an e-email alert each week directing you to Sr. Joyce Rupp’s reflections.

Want to know more about Sister Joyce Rupp? Visit her website.

Visit Ave Maria Press for a full selection of books by Sr. Joyce Rupp

Used by permission of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.