The sky today is my favorite color of blue, the crisp shade that only comes with the quality of autumn light. Our neighborhood is finally in peak color—burning bushes ablaze, ginkgos fluffy and yellow, the maple by the park lit with an otherworldly orange.
I didn’t learn until I was an adult that the trees were these colors all along. The chlorophyll hides what is always there—but when the tree finally surrenders to the dying, the beauty emerges. I guess I always imagined that the fiery fall colors were something a tree put on, sort of the botanical equivalent of a fancy red dress. But no, the green was only hiding the tree’s realest hues.
In a culture that places great emphasis on "being true to yourself," on discovering your identity and living authentically, on pursuing what makes you come alive, I find it fascinating that the trees tell a different story.
I don't pay much attention to the trees in our neighborhood all summer long. I am thankful to live in an old neighborhood, where the trees cast generous shade, but their greens all bleed together unremarkably. It isn't until autumn that I realize they are so very different--that this one is a sweet gum, that's a sassafras, over there is a ginkgo. Each tree's truest, most beautiful self is only revealed when it surrenders, when it dies.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).
But for the trees, and for us, death is not the end--because for our Jesus, death did not have the last word.
Every autumn I remember again why this is my favorite season, and I see again how God has written His truth large and lovely on oaks and maples and tulip poplars: beauty comes through dying.
Previously in the fall (including more photos of our gorgeous neighborhood):
Death and Beauty
Part of the Whole
Compelled to Capture Beauty