What We Learn from Leaves


A little over a week ago, when I returned to Missouri from a trip out of state, it seemed as though all around me the trees were vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red!  It was breathtaking and seeing the beauty of creation made me deeply grateful for the gift of life.  I don’t know if I just hadn’t noticed it before because I was too used to seeing what I always see, or if something really did change in the few days that I was away.

What I have noticed in the more recent days is that it is getting colder and the leaves are falling rapidly from the trees.  Here in University City, there is a method for collecting the leaves.  The city is divided into zones and each zone is given a specific week when a big truck will come by and use a giant hose to suck up all the leaves that are in the street.  The key to a successful leaf collection is to know when your week is and make sure that all of your leaves have been raked or blown into the street before the big truck with the giant hose comes by.  However, if you move your leaves out too early, the wind will blow half of them back into your yard and a new layer of freshly fallen leaves will settle on top, making your lawn just as covered as it was before you did all that raking. 

Timing is everything and it is always a moving target.  Should you rake the week before so that you are certain that your leaves will be picked up by the big truck with the giant hose?  The risk is that your yard will be covered again before the truck comes.  Should you rake the day the big truck is supposed to come by in an effort to clear as many leaves as possible?  The risk is that you will miss the truck all together—one day late is all it takes.

It seems to me that life is like this, too.  We live between moments of deep beauty that take our breath away and moments when it feels like everything is turning brown and falling down around us.  As much as we might scramble to keep things tidy, to get rid of the leafy clutter, or to meet our deadlines, something inevitably goes awry and our lawn is covered with crunchy reminders of this season in our lives. 

Maybe there is a connection in this autumn season to the disturbing wisdom that Jesus gives us in the beatitudes in Luke: life is a mixture of wonderful blessings and terrible things.  And, maybe there is a reminder in this autumn season that we always live in a space of already, but not yet.

I’ll be pondering this as the leaves keep falling in my own yard. 

…By the way, the big truck with the giant hose passed my house this morning—and we were ready, this time!  But, I’m fairly certain that our lawn will be covered again by the time I get home tonight!!


Rev. Jill