Tuesday, November 9, 2021

What's behind falling leaves

The truth about falling leaves goes against notions we have about the wind gently pulling leaves from trees.

I came across an interesting quote recently by Peter Raven, a renowned botanist, who said, “Instead of calling this season ‘The Fall,’ if trees could talk, they'd call this the ‘Get Off Me’ season.

I am no expert, but I’ll try to give a simple explanation. (I am open to correction by my forester friends). Leaves are used for photosynthesis in the spring and summer to supply food for trees, but in the winter, the water in the leaves would freeze. This would keep them from providing nutrients to the tree and make them an unnecessary burden.

So, in deciduous trees, “abscission” cells form where the leaf connects to the branch and cuts the leaf from the tree  in the fall. (That word abscission has the same root as the word scissors). Trees push off the leaves, which enables them to store up nutrients for their great spring resurgence.

The trees are getting rid of everything that would hold them back from fulfilling their purpose of purifying the air, providing shade, and of course being beautiful.

As I was reading about this, a verse kept coming to mind reminding me of a spiritual truth.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The apostle Paul uses the words “throw off” here which has the same tone as “get off me” in the quote above. To fulfill our calling, we need to get off of us everything that would hold us back, too.

If you’re like me, we can say yes to things that just add to the busyness of our lives and not much else. A wise missionary I know once told me that as we get older, we need to do fewer things and focus more on what is important. Not bad advice for any age.

And of course, if we’ve allowed what is contrary to God’s word to enter our lives, we should take care of those things pronto. These could be insidious like unforgiveness or bitterness which we can harbor in our hearts but be just as destructive as the more overt transgressions.

What’s behind falling leaves is a new life and if we can cast off what holds us back, we too, will have a perennial experience of new life.

So, this fall, join me as we think about what we need to release and cut the cord. Then let’s watch for what God will do.

P.S. After publishing this piece, an interesting addendum came in from my forester friend, Dick. ". . . fall brings shorter daylight hours, colder temps--so efficiency of photosynthesis for deciduous species is too low to continue . . ah, yes, dormancy is better. Wake us up when the warmth of spring and longer daylight returns." Love hearing from an expert, Dick. Thanks much.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021

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