Fall seems to have caught me by surprise this year. It is as though in the blink of an eye the trees have turned golden and the night air catches me up short. What happened to August – or even September for that matter? Last I knew it was the end of July and now we drive by neighbors with Halloween decorations up. Life is like that sometimes – change happens suddenly whether we are prepared or not.

Last Sunday night, over dinner at YPF, one of our members was talking about the memorial service that St. Mary’s held for Winchester High School Senior, Patrick Gill, on the night his life was lost in a tragic car accident. This teenager was wide eyed as she said that the priest at St. Mary’s told the congregation that their relationship with Pat had not ended, it had changed. This turn of phrase, so central to our faith, was heard and made new in the circumstances our community has been walking through these past two weeks. In the blink of an eye we went from a community not quite ready to admit that autumn is upon us, to a community in mourning.

Parents have commented that they are hugging their children more tightly. Death somehow seems more real to our children and teens. A touch of innocence has been lost. But in the midst of it all our God reminds us, in the form of leaves the color of Holy Spirit fire and crisp air that invites us to walk more closely to those we love, that time continues moving forward. Our relationship changed, not ended.

I do not know the Gill family, but from all of the reports I have heard they are amazing people whose love is a force from which others are drawing strength in this time. As Christians we believe that our Lord entered into death in order to prepare a place for us. So as we watch the seasons to change and begin to root once again, we are invited into a time to remember what is sacred to us and to shine our love as a light to others who might need a guide out from darkness. My friends, we are an Easter people; “even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”