Looking out my window today I’m pondering leaves. Not because I’ve had to rake them, but because most are on the ground and the trees are pretty much bare. A couple years ago I discovered I really didn’t need to rake any leaves in my yard. If I wait long enough, they all end up in my neighbor’s yard! Then, I think he does the same thing I do. He waits until they blow into his neighbor’s yard.
The raking of the leaves, kind of fun as a kid, only because we would make really big piles of leaves and then jump into them. Not so much fun as an adult, when we are worried about our yard looking good and clean. However, my philosophy on the ritual of raking leaves changed when I was the Pastor at a church in Warkworth. While at that church people from the congregation – farmers for the most part – told me not to rake leaves because they are God’s fertilizer plan. I must admit, it took very little convincing for me to scratch that chore off my to-do list!
Last week I was once again reminded of the fact we don’t need to rake leaves, and the fact we shouldn’t rake leaves! As I was scrolling through my FaceBook feed I came across a picture of a pile of leaves that said; “Leaves are not litter. They’re food and shelter for butterflies, beetles, bees, moths and more. Tell friends and neighbors to just #LEAVETHELEAVES.” When you think about it, not only are leaves God’s fertilizer, but they become cozy little homes for insects and other living creatures to hibernate in through the winter.
Life can be like that too. What looks like leaves and debris needing to be raked and cleared away, actually result in good fertilizer, enabling us to grow in maturity. While we may not like the maturing process, in the end, when we allow God to do what He wants, we end up stronger. Sometimes people around us try to clear away the leaves saying things like, “Here, let me help you clean up that area so you will feel better.” But, maybe we need to allow the leaves to stay put so things like “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” can grow. Many times, it’s during the fall and winter season, that we see ourselves grow and mature into the kind of person others will want to be with.
But, like anything, there’s always a need for balance. If we never clean up our yard, soon it becomes overgrown and unruly. If the leaves build up too high after the snow melts, soon the grass will die and all we’re left with is a mess. While it’s true, butterflies, beetles and other bugs need a good home for the winter, in the spring of the year we need to do some cleaning to make sure new life grows back. If we leave things too long, at times the moisture and other decay on the ground, can begin to stink the place up too. Again, life can be like that too. If left too long, problems turn into pain. Pain turns into offense. Offense turns into sadness and a downward spiral can get out of hand very quickly. If we’re not careful, soon our lives can begin to stink up the place and before you know, no one wants to be around you at all.
Life can be full of ups and downs. But when we approach life as a journey, we discover a balance is possible. As we head into the fall and winter season, maybe it’s time to allow God to work on some areas of maturity. In the end, when we allow Him to be in control of the journey, we do ultimately discover happiness, peace and joy.
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.