leaf-peepers and fall-gawkers (seasons: what a great idea!)


Don’t trust in violence;
don’t set false hopes in robbery.
When wealth bears fruit,
don’t set your heart on it.
God has spoken one thing—
make it two things—
that I myself have heard:
that strength belongs to God,
and faithful love comes from you, my Lord – Psalm 62:10-12a

DSC_0169PEEPERS: We’ve all heard of “leaf-peepers,” it’s the name applied to tourists who travel at just the right time to catch the fall colors at their peak. However, in just our second autumn here in North Carolina, “peeping” isn’t quite the word; I have to admit to being more of a gawker.

I’ve caught myself just standing there, mouth hanging open, staring at a grouping of maples in full color. I love, love, love this time of the year, and when you add crisp temperatures, wearing a sweater all day, donning my leather jacket to walk Scout, and the prospect of a good six months or more before even thinking about running the AC, then I am more than a happy camper.

I enjoy all four seasons (who knew, after over 30 years living in Florida, that it turns out there is a winter, a spring, a summer, and a fall?), and I particularly enjoy the balance we’re experiencing here. But fall resonates with extra meaning, I think, because – now deeply into middle age – this season is an inspirational illustration of this time of my life.

IMG_5961SEASONS: A beautiful fall isn’t about leaves dying and falling off, it’s about completion; it’s about everything that brought a tree to this point coming into clear focus, and presenting something beautiful to the world. Such dazzling colors are revealed in maturity, they have only been hinted at up until now.

I have the sense that at this time, in my late fifties, I finally have the opportunity to bear fruit in a way that is cumulative – an aggregation; it’s as if I have had to listen for a long time, and absorb, and simmer, and metabolize, and process in order for my leaves to begin to turn.

At fifty-eight, it’s like my soul has acquired this patina; as if – like the leaves – I am becoming more deeply myself over time.

DSC_0174I’ve used this scripture before, but it jumped back into my mind while writing that paragraph about the leaves beginning to turn: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)

Those leaves – the ones that have taken almost six decades to get to this point – they’re not for me, they are for the healing of the nations.

For the healing of the nations – DEREK

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