Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Little Autumn Wonder

This tree is in my neighborhood park. It stands at the center of my vision as I turn down the main street to get to my apartment. It is majestic and awesome. Several weeks ago, with every leaf intact, it turned bright red and proud and full of absolute, breath-taking beauty -- literally. I'm telling you, good thing our speed limit is 10 mph, cause this thing was so beautiful I almost lost control of the wheel. I wish I had taken a picture of it's wholeness, but then there is something almost more beautiful about it when the leaves start to fall and just keeps on standing firm.

So blazing and bright -- it sends a message. It will not be ignored. This beautiful color-turning tree commands humility and wonder. Silent, still, immovable. Not showy, but undeniable in its power.

This is glory. This is the kind of natural occurrence, a thing of terrible beauty that happens without any involvement of an outside agent, that makes me know in the pit of me that something living, conscious, soul-filled, artistic -- some ONE made this tree, and designed it's processes, and started the repeating cycle that would remain in place unshaken for century after century.

And each year after year, these colors matter to one little me. And millions of other little people just like me.

Trees are worshipers of the best kind. They are rooted and grounded. Their branches raise upward, toward the sun, all of their days. They are un-self-conscious in their beauty. They simply live and grow and reach up and up, providing shade and offering a glimpse of heavenly design to passersby. Trees take nothing for themselves. Everything they do brings glory to their maker, and gives enjoyment to world around.

Trees are so solid and rooted, but their leaves are another story.

(I am more like a leaf. I am always leaving. I am shaky, I can be unsettled by a stiff gust of wind. My colors change, but not always beautifully. I fall to the ground every so often. I really identify with the plight of the leaves.) 

I find it so interesting to learn what is happening with the leaves as their colors transform. During Spring and Summer, they are green due to the chlorophyll which is present in the leaves and aids the process of photosynthesis, which is essentially the leaves using the sunlight, water, and other chemicals from the environment to make food for the tree to live and grow. Green leaves mean a busy, active tree.

The problem is, days get short. There isn't enough sunlight through the Winter for the leaves to continue photosynthesis. The trees store up enough "food" for the winter during Spring and Summer, and as Autumn comes the busywork slows and the tree gets ready to rest and thrive off the store.

The brilliant colors of the leaves are a signal that some of that stored food is trapped in the leaves. They're showing off a little bit -- They've done their job and done it well. Autumn colors are almost like the leaves' way of having a little party for all they've accomplished. Afterward, they fall down to rest.

I hate the Winter. I get easily depressed by short days, extra darkness, and leafless, dead-looking plants. I grit my teeth and must use great force to get myself outside on a daily basis. It's just rough, every year, and I know I'm not alone. Watching the leaves change color is like a tragically beautiful piece of music.

Autumn's loveliness makes me ache that something so beautiful is right in front of me, but the knowledge that it means Winter is coming is almost too much to bear. It's a little glimpse that beauty comes in difficult places. Seasons change -- the good ones and the bad.

This year, I'm trying to plan ahead. Plan things to emphasize happiness and keep busy and warm and surrounded by the things that matter and that remain regardless of the seasons.

I'm learning something from the trees, like always. They look lifeless and barren in the Winter, but in reality, they are resting. They are relying on stored riches, which they built up in times of plenty to survive in the scarce times. This is what enables them to stand firm -- stored riches, and a willingness to enter into rest. 

Look at that tree. No fear. Let the leaves fall -- they've served their purpose. This tree is ready to stand firm, surviving on stored riches and a peaceful hope for the future of Spring. This is who I want to be! Unshakable.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet...

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

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