Friday, November 07, 2008

Part of the Whole

Up until the last week or so, the colors in Tennessee were not particularly spectacular this fall. Thanks to the ongoing drought, a lot of the leaves simply turned brown and dropped rather than dying flamboyantly. So I was startled last week to see a tall, full maple tree defying that pattern, its rich orange leaves blazing against the crisp blue sky. Unlike most of the trees I had seen, where still-faintly-green or dead brown leaves distracted from the brilliance of the colors, this tree was wholly orange, and I stopped for a moment to admire it.

As Elijah and I walked closer, I reached up to pull off one of the leaves, wanting to grasp a piece of the beauty, to examine it more closely. I was choosy about the leaf I plucked, trying to get the best one. But to my surprise, the leaf in my hand wasn’t all that beautiful. Its color was mottled and uneven; it was spotted with brown blemishes.

The leaf was not meant to draw attention to itself singularly. It blazed most beautifully when it contributed to the whole. Its purpose was not to be admired for its individual glory, but to share in the glory of the fiery tree. Examined as separate parts, the leaves were flawed, unremarkable. Taken together, they gave me a glimpse of transcendence.

A picture of the church, perhaps? The members of this Body are broken, inconsistent, fragile as leaves; they cannot bear the weight of glory alone. But together they can point to One whose majesty and splendor are incomparable. When firmly attached to a strong, solid tree—their source of life—they bring glory to Him. And their beauty blazes most brilliantly when they die.


Zoanna said...

You made me ink! This was a beautiful description of the church. I'm going to send folks over her via my blog. The most touching thing I've read in a while. Particularly that last line. Gulp.

Anonymous said...

so well said, Amy. thank you for using your gift and observation to encourage us.

Oksana said...

Hi! :) I found your blog through a post about NoBloPoMo. What an absolutely beautiful allegory! thank you for sharing it... I don't think I'll ever look at a leaf the same way now. Very thought-provoking.

God bless!

Mother of Dog said...

The fall colors are also lovely in Seattle - although I think my church is just the outdoors. :)