A quick walk the other morning confirmed the pending arrival of fall. Between the juxtaposition of the red sky, brisk breeze and the random leaves drifting down, change is imminent.
In thinking about the “fallen” in life, we often correlate that word with a negative undertone. We use statements such as “the mighty have fallen”, or view the fallen as those who have stumbled, backslid from Grace or are no longer with us as they served country or community. These examples are real, but our expansion of the association covers many less critical areas of life where we apply the attachment to letting go of things as a negative or painful experience.
What came to me was an invitation to view the fallen leaves on the ground, not as something of value the tree had lost, but part of the natural process the tree undergoes to produce new fruit.
It’s as if it instinctively knows that to continue, to grow and be healthy, it must let go. Letting go of the leaves that still serve the tree would not be the most natural thing for it to do if it had any ability to think. They are not dead yet, and some of them will peak and be the most beautiful version of themselves that they can manifest in the very season they drift to the ground in an almost trivial way.
The tree and leaves serve one another in synergy and splendor. The tree through its’ roots provides nourishment for the buds to grow. However, for the tree to continue to flourish and deliver lasting shade, future homes for birds and animals, and grow its root system stronger during the lean, stark winter season – it must let go of the leaves that have come full circle in their life cycle.
What are the leaves in our lives that we cling to such as the thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve us? Perhaps some of our leaves do still appear to have a purpose or are just too beautiful to think of parting with. Yet in sustaining them we limit our future growth and continuity because we cannot let them go. Even the most cherished may have come to a place where regrowth cannot occur as long as they remain.
Rather than just seeing the fallen as something to avoid, we can try to adopt a philosophy and understanding that in place of the things we let go of, forced or otherwise, growth can come later on. It is not an easy concept as it relates to the loss of human life, but we may have adopted a belief that something which must be let go of is considered a failure on our balance sheet of life.
Places, things, relationships, titles, careers, perceptions, and even principles if not fully aware of why we believe in what we think, are all terrific examples of losses that may very well invite expansion as they make space for growth. Asking ourselves to think about them in a new, inquisitive light may be all we need to realize the gift of the season of change.
Not everything that has fallen is meant to be picked back up.