There’s a tree in the courtyard near our apartment building.
When we moved in last January it was leafless, covered in a blanket of snow. On Easter morning we took a picture in front of it, delighted that spring time had brought soft green leaves and bright pink blossoms to decorate our common area. As summer came, the blossoms became some kind of tiny cherry-apple hybrid, a fruit adored by the squirrels that share our little community.
And now, as the days grow shorter and the air becomes cooler, our big green tree has set it’s leaves on fire – they blaze orange and yellow, blanketing the ground below as each day more and more flutter off the branches and down to their resting place in the grass.
Autumn has arrived.
I’ve never really noticed the seasons this way before. I grew up in Alaska, where some describe the seasons as nearly winter, winter, still basically winter and summer – short and sweet. There was high school and college in Texas, which was a bit of the same in reverse. And then nearly a decade in California, where the seasons change nearly imperceptibly as we enjoy life outdoors all year round.
But Colorado does it right. There are four beautiful seasons here and for the first time this week, I’m entering the fourth, autumn. The tree in our courtyard is like those on the hillside and the ones I see lining the streets around town, alive with colors, leaves blowing through the air as the sense that the world is changing is everywhere.
After watching it now for nearly a year, I find myself considering the lesson of that tree outside our apartment, dying then resting each year to allow for new growth in the season to come. It reminds me of the promise of the gospel that a new life awaits us, if only we’ll die to this one. I see myself in that tree, a thousand little leaves beginning to turn. And I hope that what’s dying are the places I no longer need, the mask of having-it-all-together, the stains of dishonesty, the false pride in feeling important for using my gifts.
There was a literal death in my body last week, a miscarriage that caught us by surprise. As I’ve grieved and rested and begun to heal these last few days, I’ve fought the impulse to ask why. Why another baby lost? Why more death? Why not this time?
It’s not that why isn’t allowed, I can “why” all the live-long day. But why is less helpful than “What’s next?” And for me, I know that what’s next has to be letting go of the dreams I’d started dreaming, the plans for this sweet little life that is complete much sooner than I might have chosen. I have to let those hopes die here in my tears, as I’m held by my Comforter and Keeper, so that my heart can start to hope again.
Death isn’t easy, but it makes way for something new. It’s happening in my courtyard and it’s happening in me, if I’ll let it. I want to surrender, to open my hands and let the leaves I’m holding onto fall where they may. It’s scary, letting go, but I can do it if I trust that I am rooted and established in Christ, who holds me together, redeeming these little deaths into something full of new and lasting life.
Any death dangling on your tree this week, friends, waiting for you to let it fall? Hear this gracious word of new life today:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
This post originally appeared at Middle Places.