“Turning Over a New Leaf ” This Fall

Today, I learn the etymology of the phrase, “turning over a new leaf.”  It dates back to the 16th century and literally means to turn the page.

I’m ready to turn the page.  I’m ready to move on in my story.  Aren’t you?

As the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to fall around my Pennsylvania home, I notice one little tree in the woods has turned bright red.  She’s transforming–dropping the old–and preparing for the new.   No other tree feels the need to yet, but she does. 

One Tree Changing Colors

What confidence and courage it takes to transform!   

I’m moving into this new season with my heart open to change. 

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Journal:  What changes will I make this fall season?

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More Than Enough

A long time ago, a friend of mine remarked that you can see things more clearly in the late autumn and winter.  She said that the contrast of empty, colorless landscapes makes anything vibrant stand out that much more.  There’s a focus you gain when you find yourself in stark places.

I like that.  I like that because when it looks desolate, maybe it’s because there’s something I’m supposed to see. 

Yesterday, I leave my house to walk to pick the girls up from school.  It’s 2:15 PM, and here I am, trudging through my own bleak landscape.  I take my camera because I’m learning photography.  It’s nearly winter.  Few leaves hang on the trees like lovers not ready to depart.  There’s a desperation in the air and a sadness as I crunch all these dead leaves under my feet.  Everything mourns.  But then, I remember the feature on this old camera called “Digital Macro.”  I fumble with the camera, punch the button, and look around–differently this time.

Glorious Acorns

I’m exploring with hope on this mile walk to school.   Two acorns survived the fall from their tree, and as the sun shines through the bare trees, I lay down on the path and take a picture. 

I rest a minute in the stillness of it all.  It feels like flair to be a grown woman stretched out on her stomach on the ground like this with her hands propped up to steady an old camera. 

What else can I find out here?  What beautiful thing awaits?

All of a sudden, the view isn’t barren.  It’s absolutely abundant

Autumn Berries of Richest Red

This grim landscape has gifts to offer. 

And even in the starkest landscape, there’s more than enough.

Yellow Berries with Blue Sky
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Does Happiness Have a Sound?

Lately, I’ve been amazed at how loud the autumn leaves are.  They crunch underfoot, and those left in the trees chatter as the wind blows.  And then there’s the haunting whisper of a leaf as it descends–barely audible–but still vibrating whether I perceive it or not.

I stop everything and gaze at that leaf.  It arrives on the ground soft and silent.  

What beautiful sounds never reach my ears?  If I stop and think about it, I’m hearing so many things at this exact moment I’m surprised I’m not crashing from auditory overload.

I know I’m growing older.  Movie soundtracks seem too loud and assaulting.  I can barely handle the frenzied circus beat of a video game.  I’ve been known to scream out, “Can’t we just have some quiet?

I want enough quiet so I can hear beautiful sounds:  the purr of a cat, the clink of ice in a tall glass of water served to guests, the hush of wool socks on the hardwood floor.  I want to hear the gurgle of homemade sauce simmering and the teasing fingers of the first drops of rain on the roof.  

And the measured sigh a page of a book exhales when I turn it. 

I take my hearing for granted.  One day, I might lose it all together.

I want a beautiful soundtrack to accompany this day.  I want to be still enough–aware enough–to hear it.  Living with flair means I manage the auditory track.  Might I be a gatekeeper for my ears and my living space?   Might I create a culture of beautiful sounds in my home–the kind of sounds that delight and don’t disturb?

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A Glorious Death

Autumn Leaves

I’m looking up into the autumn leaves, and I realize I’m watching a glorious death.  These colors–this vibrant display of glory–come at the point of death (technically the disintegration of chlorophyll).   This beautiful moment represents the end of life for these leaves.  I don’t name it as tragic.  I revel in this autumn landscape.  I take a picture and marvel.

What forms of death are glorious?  When, like these leaves, is death a moment of glory?

A Glorious Death

I think of when the will bends to God in a moment of surrender.  I think of what it means to become absorbed in divine purposes–letting my right to my own life, my own plans, and my own demands disintegrate like chlorophyll.  Like autumn leaves, I am most beautiful when I’m at the end of myself.  The Christian life might be seen as a glorious dying–a surrender of self–to become a child of the one whose Glorious Death wasn’t tragic but victorious and radiant.

Decaying Tree

Later, I hike through a forest and come upon a massive decaying tree.  I think of this as a glorious death as I imagine the refuge and nourishment such a dying tree provides for the ecosystem.  Might I see my own life as a fallen tree, bowed down, dead to self, so that I might find the life that’s truly life?

A life surrendered might feel tragic and painful.  But not for long.  It’s nourishing, radiant, glorious.  We see and marvel.

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