Catching Leaves

In my role with Young Life, we get to take a day once per month for solitude. It’s a time to get away from the frantic pace of life, be alone with the Creator, and rest in His grace. I’ve found this day to be difficult, however. My heart finds itself fretful and tense, resistant to the Father’s gentle calling to be still and know He is God.
My schedule got changed this morning, so I decided to take a half day of solitude and finish it Friday afternoon. I set out for a walk on this warm, autumn morning. As I slowly walked, breathing in the fragrance of a warm November morning, I noticed countless leaves dancing in the wind, slowly descending to earth. 
I harken back to childhood memories of catching the autumn leaves at our Ozark Mountain home on Bear Creek Road as they plummeted downward in their spiral dance. I can still smell the leaves and the air and feel the breeze on my face as I reach for the sky, smiling, and laughing as I attempt to catch the leaves. More often than not the leaves alluded my grasp, continuing their twirling dance to their gentle deathbed below.
Those memories made me smile as I walked this morning and observed leaves from Oak, Maple and Elm mingle together in their fleeting descent. The wind whistled a tune through the branches, as if the Spirit of God were whistling my name in love.
Like the leaves, I realize my life is fleeting and slowly descending. All our lives, compared to Eternity, are but a wisp of steam escaping a cup of morning coffee, or a mist rolling over Lake Taneycomo. In our dance through life, floating and descending, we mingle, like the oak and maple leaves, with other lives. There is amazing beauty and a symphonic mystery to the dance of autumn leaves in the Ozarks, as there is amazing beauty and symphonic mystery to the dance of our lives, individually and collectively.
I believe I spend too much time fighting my descent. I’m fifty-seven years old now. My body aches more, my glasses are thick, and my lungs often feel fatigued after a hectic day. Rather than complain about my aging process, my walk this morning reminded me to find pleasure and joy in each day’s descent from this life in a broken, desperate world to life eternal, firmly planted in the new heaven and earth awaiting.
I took deep, slow breaths as I watched the leaves fall, grateful for the reminder that my Creator deeply loves each of us. We are never meaningless leaves falling to earth. We are his beloved.
I smiled as a lone leaf drew close to my outstretched hands. I caught it and opened my grasp to observe this lesson from God. My childhood memories applauded as I let the leaf continue its descent and walked on, fear and stress falling with the leaf.

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