"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11
The Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, located in South Bound Brook, NJ, has always been known as a place of pilgrimage where the faithful can renew their spirits by immersing themselves in the beauty of the services and the nature surrounding them.
As the days grow shorter and the air takes on a crisp chill, the Center undergoes a breathtaking transformation, painting the world in hues of gold, crimson, and amber. Autumn, a season of unparalleled beauty, captivates the senses with its vibrant colors, cool breezes, and the sweet scent of fallen leaves. This magical time of year, marked by the transition from the warmth of summer to the quiet slumber of winter, invites us to pause and immerse ourselves in the natural spectacle unfolding around us.
One of the most enchanting features of autumn is the symphony of colors that graces the landscape. Trees, once adorned in lush greenery, begin to shed their leaves, revealing a spectacular array of reds, oranges, and yellows. The deciduous canopy transforms into a painter's palette, creating a breathtaking mosaic that stretches from the Consistory offices, past the Seminary, over the stream, and around the Saint Andrew Memorial Church.
The play of light during autumn adds an ethereal quality to the scenery. The slanting sunbeams filter through the foliage, casting a warm and golden glow on everything they touch. The interplay of light and shadow creates a captivating dance, highlighting the intricate details of nature's artwork. Sunrises and sunsets take on a new richness during this season, with the sky ablaze in fiery hues that reflect the changing landscape below.
The brilliant red of burning bushes accent the crisp white structure of the Transfiguration Chapel which sits nestled among the trees with the tall spires of the St. Andrew Memorial Church shining in the background. Beneath the stately trees squirrels scurry around gathering nuts and seeds, while woodpeckers hammer overhead. The thick hydrangeas with their stately flower heads drying upon their stalks rustle as Blue Jays hop around cawing and squawking.
Autumn also heralds a time of transition for wildlife. Animals prepare for the colder months ahead by foraging for food and building cozy nests. The air is filled with the sound of migrating birds, a testament to the seasonal rhythm of the natural world. Observing these behaviors adds a layer of intrigue to the season, connecting us more deeply with the cycles of life that play out in the midst of autumn's splendor.
As the morning sun warms the air, an ethereal mist rises from the babbling brook, revealing flocks of geese and ducks who have congregated to rest before continuing their southbound journeys. Permanent inhabitants of the Center such as foxes, rabbits, gophers have all grown in their thick and warm winter coats, as they too run around looking for a tasty morsel. The resident deer herd happily munches on a bumper crop of acorns, hostas and berries that can still be found around the property.
The tall and stately trees prepare for their winter sleep, slowly dropping their colored leaves which carpet the ground below, providing shelter and safety for the bees, butterflies, and beetles as they sleep through the winter.
As the dark clouds roll in, obliterating the sunshine, the Center still seemingly glows with light, illuminated by the brightly colored leaves, and the final blooms of the season, as the bell in the St. Andrew Memorial Church chimes, and Evening Prayers from the Seminary Chapel echo quietly and mystically upon the gathering evening mist and carry over the stream, through the fields, to every corner of the property.
The natural beauty of the Metropolia Center in Autumn is a testament to the poetic harmony of change. As the world dons its fall wardrobe, we are reminded to embrace the fleeting moments of this enchanting season. Whether it's the vibrant colors, the cool breeze, or the rustling leaves, autumn invites us to step outside and immerse ourselves in the profound beauty that surrounds us and brings us closer to our Creator. So, as the leaves cascade from the trees like nature's confetti, take a moment to visit the Metropolia Center of the UOC of the USA and savor the magic of autumn, for it is a season that paints the world in hues of wonder and leaves an indelible mark on our hearts, and imprints God’s beauty upon our souls.