Words Like Leaves

Three hours of color.

I left the house about 11:00, restless, with no appointments for the day until 7:00 p.m., at which time I’d head up to UW to shoot a couple of short scenes for a film being produced by a friend of a friend.   I get nervous about such things, so I needed something to smooth out my pre-performance anxiety.  These days I usually grab my camera and go in search of some new thing.   Bluster was in the air, and I figured a bracing walk might be nice.  Wandering the neighborhoods just northeast of Greenlake, I soon found myself neck deep in color, giant, sculptural leaves resting fresh on the ground, not yet curled into that rich dead brown, but still pulsing with gradient reds and yellows, many of them conspiring to lay themselves in compositions artists struggle to discover.

As I wandered, I kept thinking of the Psalmist’s words: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows it over and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”   Except on this day, we were like leaves dropping from trees drifting into winter sleep, needlessly shouting crimson as they descend, as if holding their greatest praise until the very end.  No one will pay attention to the particular leaves I noticed that afternoon.   They have no doubt been blown away by now, flattened by rain and feet and time.   And soon, they will be dust, if that.   The Psalmist says God knows that about us, that we too are dust, and that He has compassion on us as He remembers that.

No two leaves are alike.   Some are like hearts, some are like countries.   But they share so much in common, and I would not likely mistake a leaf for a tree or a sidewalk.  We people, no two of us are the same.  But we are so alike.  Restless, ambitious creatures, wanting to climb higher in the tree, not be cast from it to land curbside in a ditch and drain, spectacular color notwithstanding.

Perhaps we turn color as we age, inside.   But now I read that the whole process of color-change for the leaves is because trees start to shut down from lack of light as the days grow shorter.  If that’s the case, I suppose my beautiful color analogy breaks down, because I don’t want less light, but more.  Perhaps when we enter the forever light, there will be colors yet unknown to change to, and perhaps we will not fall from the tree life, but be grafted into it.   As I said, the analogy doesn’t hold up, but the fallen capture my imagination anyway.   How can we not be grateful for what autumn brings us, a simple, near after-thought of a blessing.

I breathed a bit easier after my walk.    How can we not be glad walking in God’s beautiful thought?

Another thought in this world of falling leaves:  I must begin to let words fly, in quantities like the trees in autumn, piling them up everywhere I go.   That’s the work…

Seeing and writing and making, with textures and colors of forests and trees…

3 Comments

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  1. Leaves are one of my favorite subjects, especially in fall and winter.
    Really like the last shot– very nice!

  2. “Colors yet unknown to change into” I like that idea. It resonates with my love of C.S. Lewis’ vision that everything gets more vibrant, more real, the closer you get to the mountain of God.

  3. I have thought in depth about this, and I don’t believe the analogy breaks down at all if you look at it in another way (basically if you ignore the science aspect, which also has a lot to do with temperature, not just light). A leaf has a distinct life span, it starts as a small bright green bud, and as it ages it gets more green and eventually changes to yellow, orange or red and then it dies as it falls off the tree. We start out in the same way, there is even a saying when someone is new at something that they are “green behind the ears” or even simply just “green”. As we age, we too grow more colorful. Color in leaves is a sign of maturity. We could say that as we age, as we grow in the wisdom and grace of God, our true, more beautiful, colors start to show through. In fact, we become our most beautiful right before we die, directly before we go to meet our father. In that way, I think the analogy is strong.

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