The season of autumn is fast approaching, and it is one of my four favorite seasons of the year.
I love the crisp mornings and the cooler evenings, the deep blue skies and the welcome rain. And, I love living in a state filled with deciduous trees whose leaves will change color before they fall. I think we all enjoy the tapestry of red, brown, gold and orange that blankets our state for a few precious weeks, beginning in the north and working its way through the lower state. The lush colors bring remarkable beauty to a long walk or an everyday ride to work.
A few years ago, I learned something interesting about the changing leaves. I am not a trained botanist, so I admit that my explanation is oversimplified, but I offer it to you anyway. The brilliant autumn color is not created by a change from green to red / brown / gold / orange, but is the result of a letting go by the leaves. As the summer season ends, the leaves slowly release the chlorophyll that fills their veins and keeps them green, revealing the other rich color that was always there. So, the color is not something new, but something hidden, something that was always present but is now being seen. How wondrous it is that a process of letting go would result in such an amazing explosion of beauty!
Perhaps this is another example of the many things we can learn about God and about ourselves by observing the natural world around us. Perhaps it encourages us to consider the power and beauty of letting go. Sometimes, we hang on tightly to the “chlorophyll” of our lives. Just like the leaves, there is a season when our things / experiences / habits are essential for us to keep; and just like the leaves, there is a season to let them go. Sometimes, it is a matter of releasing the tangible stuff and clutter of our homes; sometimes, it means giving up old grudges and bitterness so the wounds can heal. Sometimes, we face changes in our level of independence or mobility; sometimes, it is a loss of rituals or traditions that we have grown to cherish. These changes, and many others, can be hard or scary, but they can also be opportunities to let our colors shine!
Letting go can reveal the strength and courage that already lie within us, bringing out the beauty of our faith in God. When we are willing to be vulnerable and trust God in releasing what has been, there is room for God to display what already is and will be. There is room for God to create a magnificent tapestry of color and texture in our lives, beyond anything we could have imagined. There is room for God to reveal the strength, and wonder, and courage that is deep within us. There is room for God to transform us.
As our little corner of the hemisphere prepares for the season of winter, enjoy the autumn beauty that surrounds us. And, I would add, enjoy the beauty that is within you! You are an amazing creature, filled with the breath of God. You have strength, and wisdom, and hope, and courage, and faith, and love – given to you by the hand of God. Don’t be afraid of the letting go, and watch your colors shine!