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A lesson from the trees

autumn leaves of many colors

The changing colors and falling leaves of autumn.

For anyone who has lived in a climate where the seasons are fully embodied, the changing colors and falling leaves most likely bring to mind countless thoughts:




Mountains of leaves to rake.

Mountains of leaves in which to play.

Colorful leaves gathered and pressed between the heavy pages of the dictionary.

Somewhat nostalgic recollections, all.

But autumn can also bring to mind thoughts about the transient nature of so much in this life. The falling leaves remind us of our own limited existence, our own impermanence, and in that, autumn can be a good time to take stock and reflect.

David W. Jones has written a contemporary meditative tale about an aging man who, in the autumn of his life, is trying to come to terms with what has been, what is, and what will be.

Near the end of this short story entitled, Going Nuts!, Jonah – the main character – takes an autumn walk in the woods. While on this walk, he hears the voice of God speaking to him.  God asks, “Jonah, do you know what the difference is between you and the trees?”

“Yes,” he said. “The difference between me and the trees is that the trees let go of their leaves. I keep holding onto mine. The trees make room for new life. I don’t.”  

Jonah scoops up a handful of leaves and then, one-by-one, separates them, naming with each leaf a grief that his life has known. When these grief-named-leaves are spread out before him, Jonah then offers them up to God, metaphorically letting them go.

In this autumn season, to what leaves are you clinging?  What leaves in your life are you holding on to that are keeping you from making room for new life? What are the leaves that God is calling you to let go?

Before all of the leaves are swept away and winter descends, take a walk outside. Pick up a leaf or two. Let them be an invitation to you to consider, reflect, and let go.  Take a lesson from the trees and make room for new life.

God bless your reflecting --

+Pr. Char


Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.