November 2, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Meditating on the beauty and blessings of autumn

Shirley Vogler MeisterLife is full of wondrous coincidences that seem to come directly from God.

However, someone once told me that it isn’t the coincidences that are so special, but instead the fact that God’s grace works in us so that we can recognize how special they are.

I thought about this recently when a Catholic friend, Rose, e-mailed a beautiful poem about autumn only a few hours after my husband and I talked about how wonderful this season is.

Rose and Stan Thomas in Bloomington appreciate autumn as much as we do. I responded to her message, explaining how a couple of Saturdays before, another Catholic friend, Mary Benson, came to pick me up so we could attend a Pen Women meeting at Ivy Tech College followed by a program about poetry. (I also presented awards to students whose poems I judged in a competition, one student being a Catholic who said she always reads The Criterion.)

As I went out the door to go to Mary’s car, my foot barely missed stepping on the most beautiful autumn leaf I had ever seen—rich with pink and red and varied green, yellow and beige tones. There wasn’t another leaf on the porch, just that one.

I took it with me to show Pen Women members when, as the chaplain for the Indianapolis branch of the National League of American Pen Women, I opened our meeting with one stanza of a John Keats’ poem titled “To Autumn.” It can be found at

lso went to my favorite English Literature textbook from early college classes in Belleville, Ill. I savored the entire Keats’ poem several times.

However, I especially want to share with readers the poem that Rose sent to me. The author is Regina Wiencek. All I know about her is that her poem, also titled “Autumn,” was found in a New Providence, N.J., senior citizens newsletter. I hope readers will meditate on the poem and this beautiful season.

The air resounds with voices
Piercing Autumn’s still.
From the meadows crickets call
Relentlessly and shrill.

Aspen leaves are quaking
In the gentle breeze.
Blackbirds flock to empty fields
And squabble in the trees.

All around the eye detects
Autumn’s busy hand,
Painting vales and hillsides
So vibrant and so grand.

Shades of crimson and of gold
Blaze mingles in the green.
The woodlands stand aglow again
In colors rarely seen.

Autumn’s tranquil picture
Is framed by heaven’s blue.
October days so beautiful,
So fleeting and so few.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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