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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Beautiful Dying

Autumn is the season of beautiful dying.

Here in Minnesota, as long as you don’t think about what’s coming next, it is an exquisite season, poetic in its offerings. Glorious landscapes. Tantalizing smells. Imminent nostalgia. Even my husband, in his valiant attempt to harden his heart to its enchantment, inevitably concedes. It’s hard to hate fall.

Perhaps I will one day look back on this particular autumn as my own season of beautiful dying. A season of letting go and giving back and laying down. Of course, one can only measure the rings of a tree in retrospect, and so it is likely foolish to identify a season of the soul before its completion. And yet, I wonder.

There was a moment, perhaps coinciding with the turn of the page from September to October, when I felt myself dying. Or drowning, more like. I found myself swimming in a season of weighty commitments and endless commuting. And then. There was a sobering email, a daunting assignment—from an editor—regarding my book.

“You're allowed to hate her for five minutes, and then you need to get to work.” Wise counsel from an experienced author, and point taken.

I did. Hate her. Or maybe it wasn’t her I hated so much as this whole ridiculous notion. What was I doing? What business did I have thinking I was qualified for ANY of this? And by any I meant this book and everything else besides. I was in deep, deep, water, and sinking fast.

And then, in the middle of the drowning, the most unexpected thing happened.

I laughed out loud.

No kidding. Sputtering, sinking, lungful of water. I laughed.

I laughed for two reasons, and both came to me in a desperate flash, unexpected. First, came the reckoning—full admission, obvious conclusion—I certainly CAN’T. But perhaps HE CAN. Well, of course He can, and this, likely, is the obvious epiphany conclusion of any good dying. I really and truly cannot do this, and now it is only and ultimately up to HIM.

And then. The second reason I was able to laugh out loud—was this.

This BOOK was always and only meant to be HIS.

It’s His.

His, and all about Him.

And this editor, whom I’m allowed to hate briefly, saw the jewel in the middle of my mess. The story within the story. The treasure He’d given from the very beginning.

The book is about Him.

I’d muddied it up, I guess. Thinking I needed to add my own stories, putting ME all over the text. NOT NEEDED. Not a bit. The book, from the very beginning, was always and only HIS.

And so, the beautiful dying. Laying it down. The book, and this life, too. And then. Receiving back what He’d already given. There, in death—this exquisite, wonderful, GIFT.

Why do you suppose He did it like this, when He created our seasons? Why did He paint this season of autumn-dying with such breathtaking color—such glorious design? I wonder.

Annual portrait of an eternal story. And the story is His.

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