By Susan K. Smith,
I have always gotten a little sad with the coming of autumn. The lush green that surrounds us, provided by leaves on trees and bushes, begins to fade. By July, really, the leaves begin to shake loose from their branches; if you stop to notice, you will see browned leaves lying on the streets and sidewalks. But as the weather continues to change, as the amount of daylight gets less and less, depriving the leaves of their needed number of hours in order to remain green, the leaves acquiesce. They begin to turn colors, from green, to yellow to red …and then they fall from the trees. Their lives are over and the branches of the trees are left naked.
But it turns out that the falling of leaves from the trees is an act of divine creative brilliance. Leaves are nourished from the sun, but they are also nourished from water stored in the roots of the trees. It takes energy for the water to come from deep in the ground, from the roots, to the branches above, to feed the leaves.
In the summer months, the energy transference moves fairly smoothly; the leaves get their water. But when the weather gets cold, the water is prone to freeze. It takes much more energy to do the same work. The work can be done, but at great cost. If too much energy is expended, the roots can weaken…and the entire tree can die. So, the leaves falling off the trees is an act of grace. The leaves falling off the trees is necessary so that the roots can be strengthened, or at least not lose valuable energy, so that at the end of the cold season, there can be new life. A dead tree cannot produce leaves.
God is a genius. Even if we don’t know it, all things living need rest. All things living need for “the old” to fall off to make way for “the new,” but “the new” cannot come if the soul, the center, the root, if you will, of that living entity, expends valuable energy trying to work against a force that is going to come, no matter what. Winter…is going to come, and the tree knows it and adjusts. God put into all living things the capacity to adjust to change. Not only that, God included in the creative process the necessity of knowing how and when to adjust. God wired us, organic and inorganic living matter, to survive and to thrive. God has no interest in seeing what He/She created crash and burn just because adverse times come. At the end of adversity, all adversity, there is life, but we, the created, must cooperate with the divine directives, and we must trust that God equipped us to handle the winters of our lives in spite of things looking desolate and “naked,” because God has known, from the time God created all that has been created, that winter does not last, and that from dearth comes deep, rich, new life.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” Every time I think about how autumn is a season of mercy, a season of healing, a season of strengthening, getting rid of the old to make way for the new, I smile. The naked trees still look naked, but they seem to be singing, “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always!” The God we know has so much mercy, and is such a creative genius. God doesn’t allow us to suffer for no reason; in everything, there is a purpose, even when we lose what life we had before. At the end of the day, this God, our God, takes us as human beings through our seasons of autumn (when some of us lose everything) to make room for the spring, and then another season of summer. God saves our soul-strength, in spite of us. God helps us to preserve ourselves like we will not do ourselves. God allows us to weep, to wail…because God knows that from the tears can and come the warmth of new sun, the blessed assurance that comes from learning first-hand, how God works.
Weeping endures for a night, says Psalm 30, but joy comes in the morning. True. And to that might be added, “…and morning ALWAYS comes!”
Amen. And amen.