Autumn, Leaves, and Our Need To Let Go

Trees may seem to be going through the motions in autumn. But what if they could teach us something big? {Image credit: subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo; quote: Laurie Wallin}

Trees may seem to be going through the motions in autumn. But what if they could teach us something big? {Image credit: subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo; quote: Laurie Wallin}

This time of year, we start to notice trees more. Colors changing, leaves falling in to piles that beg us to stomp around like kids again. Perhaps while we’re noticing trees more in the fall, we might learn something that brings brilliant shades of joy to our own lives.

The other day as I walked home from dropping one of my kids off at school, I noticed a leaf fall from one on the corner where I stood.

And it hit me. The leaf… and something bigger:

Letting go lets them grow.

Can you imagine how different fall would seem if trees simply refused to let go of their dying leaves? It may not seem like much, but to let leaves go gives trees some pretty big benefits:

Letting go conserves their energy. Winters can be harsh (although, granted, not where I live). If trees had to not only stand up against wind, rain, snow and sleet, but keep alive their delicate, vulnerable leaves as well, they wouldn’t last long. Leafless branches give the tree permission to focus on what matters most–it’s core–when the going is rough.

Letting go provides for growth. Let’s say a maple tree decides it’s not going to let go of it’s dead leaves in the fall. It likes them, they’re familiar, and it’s a lot of work to say goodbye to all those parts of them (even if they are already dead). When spring comes, and the new leaves want to sprout, they won’t be able to. And no new leaves means no ability for the tree to make its food from sunlight and rain. How long will that stubborn maple last? Not long, that’s for sure.

Letting go is just plain prettier. It’s prettier as entire groves explode in to brilliant colors. It’s prettier, even in the winter, when barren branches form silhouettes against ice-blue skies. And it’s prettier in the spring, when bright green buds form and unfold into the promise of sunny, warmer days. Imagine that maple mentioned above. It’s spring, and all the surrounding trees sprouting new life. This one wants to, but it can’t. There’s no space in that mess of deadness leftover from last season.

That maple has to let go.

So do we.

For us, it’s not leaves. It’s dried up love. Crumpled relationships. Shriveled plans. Browning dreams. Something’s died, and we have a choice: will we hold on to it, season after season, while it saps our energy, stunts our growth, and strangles our beauty?

Let’s not.

Let’s take a lesson from the trees, from autumn, and let that old, unhelpful stuff in our hearts fall away. Trees don’t choose to let go, but we can. Any season of the year.

Will you choose to let go and let healing grow in you today?

-Laurie

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