“The Plight of the Leaf in Flight”
It’s that time of year again. For trees all over the Northern Hemisphere the time has come to surrender their foliage. Why they do so in a final burst of dazzling colors can only make sense for those who believe the Creator delights in giving us the gift of beauty in nature.
Returning from Eurasia one autumn a few years back, my family flew over New England. We had lived outside the U.S. for over a year and eagerly awaited landing on our native soil. Through crisp, clear skies we could easily see the hardwood forests below us. Leaves with exaggerated colors of radiant gold, rich purple, and bright red made the forest canopy look as though a child had playfully poured paint all over it.
Sadly, the beauty of autumn’s stunning finale’ ends the same way each year. A breeze or a raindrop or an early frost snatches the leaf from its branch and sends it on its brief flight to the ground. The plight of the leaf in flight seems less than glorious. Though once the source of brilliant color, the leaf now looks battered and brown. It used to crown the tree, now muddy feet trample it. If it fell from in the forest, it will decompose into soil. If it fell in the city, it will likely end up somewhere in a compost pile.
With the recent war in Iraq, the devastating floods in Allen county, and countless other hardships people have faced on a more personal level, many people have suffered. Perhaps more than any other thing, human suffering calls into question the purpose of life and even the existence of a good God.
I certainly can’t fully solve that problem. But somehow I see something beyond the last decaying leaf from the summer past. Though gone from sight, the leaf gradually returns its life to the tree, typically the one from which it came. During the winter, when all seems bleakest under the overcast skies and freezing winds, the leaf’s essence is simply getting ready for a significant springtime comeback, not unlike a resurrection from the dead. Though the glory is past, the renewed life will last.
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