As a student one of the books I had to study was ‘The Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. If you haven’t read this relatively short book you may have see the film inspired by it, ‘Apocalypse now’. It is set deep in the rain forest where the deep forest litter it seen as emblematic of the darkness lurking within us. Conrad sees it as dark, damp, writhing corruption – a finality of deep horror. Yet I believe he got it so wrong. When I was a child my grandfather lived with us and at least once a year we’d make a family outing to Box Hill in Surrey. I have no memories of the glorious view from there as I liked to play in the dead leaves in the depths of the woods and my grandfather accompanied me carrying the sacks and shovel he had brought in our boot from home. He would joyfully gather leafmould, packing the sacks tightly, to put on the little rose garden he had made. Nothing made roses grow so well he said and certainly his roses were always splendid. Thus I learned early that the dead leaves that litter the forest floor, whether here or the deep rain forests, are a nourishing necessity for new life. They may seem dark and horrible but without them life could not thrive. Now as we are into autumn when the trees drop their leaves and all will soon seem to be dead we must be confident that those leaves will help the resurgence of life that will occur in the Spring.
It is the same with the Crucifixion. It seemed the darkest, most awful act – a true horror yet by dying Jesus saved us and it is the necessary forunner of that most glorious day of light, the Resurrection.