Skip to Main Content

As we enter the fall season, share the astonishment of generosity

I write this on a morning where the thermometer dipped to 39 degrees. After weeks of unseasonable heat, we are finally nudging into an Ozarks autumn. As I’ve mentioned before, fall is my favorite time of year. Spring is hopeful here in our hills and hollows, with flowering trees reminding us that life does come back after a long winter. Fall, though — with its vibrant colors, apples and harvest festivals welcoming in a slowing of the earth, fallow fields and rest resonates most with me. It is a reminder of the natural rhythm of our earth.

The shadows have already lengthened and, just last week, the darkness began exceeding light a little more each day. We know a long winter lies ahead, but also know life will return once again in the spring. The lesser animals know that by their nature, and are preparing for the inevitable long sleep. As humans, though, we often try and look the other way — or worse yet, face it with dread. How do we face the winter and long nights to come?

Recently, I read a great piece that captured the sentiment that faces us during times of darkness in our lives … both literally and emotionally. Katherine Rundell, a fellow of All Souls College at the University of Oxford in England, wrote:

“We humans are both miracles and catastrophes. We must acknowledge both death and joy, horror and awe. It is an astonishment to be alive, and life calls on you to be astonished; but lifelong astonishment will take iron-willed discipline.”

That astonishment for me comes nearly daily here at the CFO. I see donors unselfishly giving to organizations who help people they will never know. Several years ago, I read a letter from 11-year-old kids in the Bronx who raised $42 from a lemonade stand to send to tornado victims in a faraway place they’d never heard of. I sign an average of 120 letters a day acknowledging charitable donations aiding nearly any cause you can think of — not because the donors have to, but because they want to.

Generosity is not unlike the preparation of nature for a long winter. For those able to gather the bounty of harvest, we can share part of that with others. Perhaps, astonishment will be shared by both the giver and the beneficiary.

Brian Fogle is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Support our mission by becoming a donor today.

Donate Now