In the UK we have the most beautiful Autumn season. Our trees that have been full and bright in Summer shed their leaves creating a carpet of gold, amber and auburn blends. I remember walking between classes at school competing with friends to find the leaf that crunched the loudest when you stepped on it, and teaching my oldest son the same game years later.
For some people though, it is not this beautiful ground covering that they notice when they look out at the Autumn season. Instead they see the stark, naked trees that have lost their coat and now stand abandoned as the colder temperatures draw in. And they don’t feel hope, but instead they feel disappointment, they feel cheated of a summer gone too soon, and they feel apprehension as this is the omen of a cold, dark winter that is rolling in too quickly.
I also see this. I see how angular and bony the trees look. But I know. I know that they have not had their coat taken, but that they have let it go. You see sometimes we have to release things in order to receive something new.
Trees know this. They know that in order to survive a cold winter they need to cut off their leaves and then prepare to grow new ones come Spring. And that is what they do, a gathering of ‘abscission’ cells (scissor cells) form between the stem where the leaf and branch meet and they literally begin to sever their connection.
And so when I look out at those trees as they shed their leaves, I see their strength, I see their courage and I see their steadfast faith – that new growth will come.
When you are in a hard season, and you feel like you have been stripped back – what do you see? What do you feel? Change is inevitable and because we cannot control it, so are interrupted plans and failures. Sometimes the harder we fight to hold on to something, the louder we shout out our disappointment and anger, the longer the autumn lasts. If we spend all our energy raging and fighting against the unavoidable then we’ll find we have none left when we need it for growth.
If you are reading this and feeling tired or despondent because things seem to be falling apart around you, I want to encourage you not to resist, but to lean in to the struggle. There will always be an Autumn and always be a Winter, but that means there is always a Spring and a Summer too. So don’t try to ignore the falling leaves in Autumn, or the bleakness of Winter, but prepare yourself by keeping your eyes wide open so that you don’t miss the alternative options available to you, and the Spring waiting just around the corner.