Last Friday, when I was standing outside the office I work in, I noticed a very beautiful sight that caught my attention. It was a cool morning in Ames and almost no wind at all. The trees had reached a point in the fall where they were ready to drop their leaves and boy were they dropping. There were several trees dropping about 50-100 leaves per minute and it was like standing in a rainstorm of golden-colored leaves. It was absolutely beautiful.
If my day had been really hectic, I might have never noticed, but on this day, I took the time to watch this wonder of nature for several minutes just spellbound by the beauty of it. It was a very simple gift from God, but in those moments, it was very powerful to me. As I stood there watching I prayed to God and thanked Him for not only this gift He allowed me to notice, but for all the gifts He sends my way.
As I spent these several minutes praying, 2 distinct thoughts crossed my mind and I wanted to share with you briefly what they were. I think these are two things we all need to keep in mind.
God send us so many gifts each day that are very easy to miss if we are not looking.
The reality is that the world is full of little wonders that are gifts from God. The problem is that most of us miss them because we tend to get into our routines and focus on those things. We tend to rush from place to place and from task to task and we rarely stop to take a few minutes to actually look around at what is happening around us. I am very guilty of this. I miss so many things, but thankfully, I noticed this one. Leaves only fall off a tree at this rate for a day or two a year so to actually see it and watch it, made it even more special.
The leaves are just one example. The world is full of beauty. There are so many examples. A few that come to mind are the rainbow after a storm, a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, a mama bird feeding her babies, a tree budding in the spring, someone helping an older lady with her groceries, an older man giving guidance to a lost young boy, a father playing catch with his kids, a mom teaching her daughter how to make cookies, a coworker complimenting another coworker, the sound of the band before an Iowa State football game, the smell of a freshly mowed hay field, the sight of combines in the field, the sight of carved pumpkins glowing in the darkness on someone’s doorstep. These are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.
People talk a lot about all the evil that occurs in the world each day and it does. People tend to focus on the negative things they see and there are plenty of negative things that happen each day. But there is also a lot of good in our world. There are people helping other people. There are people who make it their life’s work to care for the land. There are so many positive things that happen each day. We need to be the kind of people who choose to focus on the positive. We need to slow down a little and see the beauty that exists everywhere around us. We need to see all the little gifts that God sends into our lives each and every day that we are on planet Earth.
For life to function properly there has to be death before new life can come from it.
As I watched the leaves fall I realized that it was the end of the life of those leaves. Their time as a part of that tree had come to an end and now they were falling off. In the spring, the miracle of life will continue and the tree will grow new leaves, but as the next fall comes, those leaves will die too and fall off the tree. It is a miracle to see the leaves grow and it is even a miracle to see how they turn golden and fall off, but if the leaves never died and fell off, there would not be any room for new leaves to grow back the next spring.
It is a metaphor for our lives here on earth. We are born and we all have our season of growing and flourishing, but eventually we come to our end and leave the earth. Our existence in this life ends and moves on, hopefully in a better place. This leaves room on the earth for new people to be born and to have their seasons. If no one ever died, the world would be overrun with people and it would not be the beautiful world we know today. Like the leaves that come and go and have their seasons, we come and go, but our world goes on. God’s plan for all life continues on. We are each a very small part of the bigger overall story. We can’t change this. All we can do is try to leave our mark with the time we are given.
As I continued to watch the leaves fall, I thought about the different seasons we go through in our lives. As we grow older, we evolve. We learn and we do change. Sometimes there are parts of our lives that have to die and fall away so that new parts can grow and thrive in our lives. All of us have had things in our lives that we have done that have not been the healthiest things for us and are destructive to our development. A part of growing is letting these unhealthy things stop being a part of us and adopt new healthier things in our lives. Without getting rid of the old, we would not be able to adopt the new.
Sometimes there are people who were once a big part of our lives who grow distant. We let them go and we meet new people who replace the vacancies left in our hearts. Some people are not healthy to the life we are trying to live and need to fall away. Others are very good for us and we love them dearly, but they are forcefully ripped from our lives. We remember all the people who are in our lives, both the good and the bad, because they help shape us into the people we are. If we did not have people leave our lives, we would not have the time or ability to have the new ones.