by Cindy Christie

Everyone and everything around you is your teacher. - Ken Keyes Jr.


The fall season is wrapping up, coming to a close.  I am spending a lot of time outside raking leaves, putting them in bags, lugging them to the curb on trash day.  The air is crisp and smells clean.  These repetitive chores give me ample time for thought and reflection.  Now, as this time is ending, I wish to share with you the lessons I have learned from the leaves.

Nearly everyone I know who lives in a house is grumbling and groaning about the dropping leaves.  They complain about the extra work, the raking and bagging that is done one day, only needing to be repeated the next.  I donít grumble or rumble on.  The leaves give me gratitude.  Gratitude for the privilege of having a tree of my own to tend.  When I was young and living poor, I never imagined that I would have a house or yard or a tree of my own.

My son tries to reason with me that we should just wait until all the leaves fall before we begin the cleanup.  He is of the opinion that we should not waste the effort raking when more will fall and we will have to start the process all over.  But I know from experience that this method is not for me.  I prefer to work at the cleanup on a regular basis.  It means less time spent at each session.  It also means that I can look out after the job and see a orderly yard instead of decaying leaves.  The leaves have illustrated the choices we have in addressing problems.  I can let my troubles build up, fill my life with mess and disarray, and then try to tackle them all at once.  I know that then they will seem insurmountable.  I will have to labor so long and hard at one stretch that thereís a chance that I will become depressed and believe things are hopeless.  As I look out at the landscape of my life, I will see chaos and feel fear.  Or I can clean them up as they come, putting my life in order, giving myself a refreshing respite before the next problem blows in.

The leaves have taught me that change can be beautiful and that endings are also beginnings.  I look around in the fall and see the striking colors that splash the foliage.  The air becomes more alive and the smells are pungent with the season.  I know by these signals that summer has ended, which I will miss, but I can look forward to the birth of the new seasons and the delights that they will bring.  Our lives are made up of constant change.  There will be periods of our lives that we will sorely miss, but we must have courage to look with anticipation to the new beginnings that come with each end.

Our purpose in life can be likened to the leaves.  We are here for a season, glorious and each unique, to provide comfort and protection through our love to those around us, just as the leaves give shade and coolness to refresh us.  We must fulfill our purpose here on earth before our season passes.

Leaves are supple, moist and pliant when attached to the life-giving tree.  When shed, they become dead, brittle shadows of themselves.  As too are our emotions.  When we remain close to the spiritual core of our true selves, we are lively and giving.  We can bend gracefully with the winds of our lives.  When separated from this core, we die spiritually.  We become rigid, harsh and unloving.

The most important lesson of all is this.  Although starts at building a fresh life or new attitude can be as fragile as the small green bud that emerges from the tree limbs in spring, they can also be just as tenacious.  Though storms of disapproval or obstacles may try to force the demise of our budding changes, we can and will persevere, as do these delicate shoots of life.

I take these lessons presented to me with reverence.  All things can be guideposts to living life in a more sustaining way if we are willing to perceive with a keen eye and an open, willing mind.  Look around yourself and discover the lessons that are awaiting your heart.


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