Even in Hawaii, the easing of the heat and humidity is a welcome change. Fall puts me in the mood and frame of mind to get rid of the dead, decaying, no-longer-serving practices. I don’t necessarily want to look for “new” methods. More like, I want to strip away the unnecessary and focus on the core.
Even though we don’t enjoy the vibrant color changes of the trees that many places do, I still enjoy looking at the pictures. I began to think about the changes that the trees go through. What is it about dropping leaves that keeps the tree alive through the winter?
In the summer, trees are at the height of their growing season. The leaves of the tree are full of chlorophyll and are busy converting sunlight to energy. Food for the tree is produced. The tree “breathes” through its leaves. But as the weather turns cooler, the tree responds by dropping its leaves. God created a plant hormone (abscisic acid) that signals the tree to stop producing leaves and discard the ones it has. The leaves are no longer needed and to keep them on would expend valuable energy. As the tree chokes off the leaves, the chlorophyll dissipates, and the true colors of the leaves show through. Once the leaf is completely dry, it drops. But it is not wasted. Left to decompose on the ground, the leaf’s remaining nutrients can be reclaimed into the soil and give the tree roots insulation from the cold. So many life lessons here.
I feel the need to be like an autumn tree. After an intense growing season of this past summer, I could use a season to draw back. I can live off what I learned for a while. I believe that God gives us seasons of life just as the earth experiences them. In some senses, we are evergreens; ready to carry on through the warmth and coolness of the year. My love for my neighbor is an evergreen in my life. But other things, like busy schedules and new endeavors, need time to ebb and flow. I want to slow down and get all I can from the lessons of summer. All that created energy is made to sustain me through the cool season.
An interesting fact I learned about dormancy in trees. Forcing a tree to stay green through winter can damage the lifespan of the tree. It is natural for trees to go through dormant stages. Sabbath rest.
In our information age, it is possible to force-feed ourselves. I am beginning to see that this is unhealthy for my mind, body, and spirit. It can feel like the more I learn, the less I remember. The more “new” things I try to retain, the more stress I feel.
After reflecting on this early Sunday morning, I went to church. My pastor mentioned Psalm 78:1-2, and it came together for me so clearly:
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.”
This is what I need in this season. Let me reflect on the things that God has already told me. I don’t need a “new word” from God. I need to pull back and utilize the food of His Word that has already been provided.
So how about you? What would it look like to let the summer lessons come in their full colors in your life? What have you recently learned but have yet to slow down and digest? Fall is a beautiful time to do just that.
Grace and peace,