Lessons of the Leaves


Leaves do nothing but hold on to their Source and position.
Because of that, they provide shade, oxygen, beauty, safety for birds.
Why, then, do I try so hard?


Leaves – most beautiful in the fall, stripped of chlorophyll and showing their true, individual colors. Yet it takes the green to give us humans shade and to make oxygen. So is the green a mask? Or is it a role?

 Or is it life, which, when the leaf gives it up, leads to the leaf’s greater glory? What do the leaves say to me? What is God, who creates them, saying to me through them?


It feels violent, terrifying –
I want to flee, but I am fascinated,
drawn toward the very thing I fear,
which strips me, as though peeling off my skin, piece by piece.

I do not hurt, but stand totally exposed,
in shock at this aggression that goes by the name Love.
What is ripped away is falseness, a mask, as I stand naked in the garden
and look frantically for leaves to cover myself.

But the leaves, too, have been changed, their chlorophyll stripped away,
and like me, their true colors are exposed:
crimson, gold, orange, brown

Like my exposed emotions: rage, joy, pain, love
Like my exposed being: jealous, insecure, giving, caring,
selfish, grasping, sacrificing, loving.


 (C) 1996


About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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