Dancing over the highways in flight orchesrated by rugged winds, leaves dried and wasted tumble in reckless abandon. Severed from a foundation, they tease and impress and entertain on warm autumnn days, playfully reminding us that death and life are intimately intertwined like purpose and vocation and luring us into the sense that what is matters. It is not about where they land, but how they respond to the urgings of the wind. And so it is for the most human among us. Life holds so many mysteries unfolding simulateneously; our humanity and wholeness rest in the response and the becoming, in knowing the fragility of the drying leaf and the life and lift of wind as a companion.

There are few mysteries more compelling than love in all its patterns and forms. Ultimately, there is the sustained commitment of physical presence and the power of actively making decisions and choice to express and enliven the depth of it, the keeness of it. But there is so much more. Love, far from being fragile and dependent on those expressions, finds meaning in the acknowledgment of existence. There is the sense that we may not be physically together but we will never be apart. Love is the music of the wind that lifts the fragile and humbles the whole. It enables a grasp of reality and and of hope. Love is the tenderness that enables one to choose not for self, but for other in a shower of respect and trust. It lingers with the mothers who stood before the king with one baby, only one saying do not hurt the child. It waits with the patience of the virgins with lamps and oil prepared for the bridegroom. It lives in the Magdalene’s discovery of the empty tomb and his stunning conversation with her teacher later. Love is the element that ripples through the stories of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, and love is at the heart of the disciples relationship with Jesus. In all its forms, love is the most dynamic and challenging of human emotions and connections. It demands more than seems possible and yet life itself is impossible to manage without it.

Humanity’s successes and failures, though, the roller coaster that love creates in lives, is a gift beyond all measure. The deepest pain of it bares the truths of its depth. The loss of it strips away the illusions and exposes the most fundamental of human needs, enables us to swim through realms of memory and live in an empathy that had not existed. There are niches and nuances to every form of love, crevices each of us explores. The truth is that we are better when we love, when we are willing to sacrifice for other, when we believe in something more than self-gratification and see more clearly what simply is. There is no doubt that the pathways of love carve deeply into souls, and moments of silence itself invite consideration of all that. But even more, there is risk to daring to love. The Gospel encourages taking that risk, daring to live in that moment, that relationship. Not because we need to, but because we can. And ours is a God who knows all the possibilities of what we will encounter in every adventure. We are not after all, only like the dried leaves dancing wildly: like them, in every aspect of their existence from tiny buds to brilliant greens and autumn colors, we are simply part of something far greater than self. Love and loving make it so.

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