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Here in these mountains, it comes quickly…if you blink you’ll miss it.
The leaves bud with new life in early spring and are lush and green through mid-October. And then suddenly, for a minute, the green gives way to gold and to orange and then to red and you have to stop everything, drop your load and go inhale.
Then the wind blows and the rain falls and after your slow blink your eyes open and the trees are bare. Beauty scattered and blown about with every passing breeze and empty limbs slow dancing as we mourn that it ended so quickly.
We spend the rest of winter watching those empty limbs dance, scrutinizing every sign — watching and waiting for the next season while missing and mourning the last.
For when the trees bear no evidence of their fruit, we’re able to see the tree. The twisted shape of its trunk, the free form of the limbs. We see it for what it is, not for what it produces.
When the tree is free from evidence of what it produces, you see it. You see it and see through it and what it produces doesn’t obscure your view anymore. You’re able to see past your yard and into your neighbor’s; see through the wood to the road ahead.
In its most stripped down and naked form, it provides you the most perspective.
And we resent it.
This being thing requires living in your winter. Letting go of what you do in order to be who you really are. Outside of what you produce and what people marvel over is a stripped down and naked you. And when God brings the wind and the rain and makes our beauty scatter and blow about, what’s left is us.
Just simple, basic and plain us.
But the most beautiful part of being the tree in our winters is that people finally see us. They see us for what we are, not what we do. They see us and through us, and what we produce — no matter how beautiful — doesn’t obscure their view anymore.
When we’re scattered and blown, we give others permission to see their neighbors and the road ahead.
In our most stripped down and naked form, we provide others the most perspective.
Jesus’ ministry was an autumn, you know. He brought new life and green leaves to the manger and then suddenly for a minute, the green gave way to brilliant golds and oranges and reds and everyone — everyone — stopped everything, dropped their load and inhaled.
But then wind and the rain came and He was barren. They blinked, and He was stripped down and naked, twisted on a tree.
And finally — finally — they had perspective and they saw Him.
They say to not despise the day of small beginnings. And usually we take that to mean to pay our dues, to humble ourselves and do whatever it takes to be obedient.
But I think sometimes our small beginnings are the winters. When our beauty has been scattered and we’re laid bare and our empty limbs dance…that is the very beginning — the smallest nuance of new life. It’s the inner life being renewed long before the green sprouts forth on the limb. The beginnings that have were birthed while we’re missing our golden glory and anticipating the next thing.
What if — instead of longing for yesterday or striving toward tomorrow — we stopped everything, dropped our load and inhaled in the winter, too? I wonder if the sharp air would burn in our chest so deeply that we couldn’t mistake that yes, we actually are still alive. And what if the falling snow insulated and protects the new that God is preparing in us?
What if — when our limbs have no fruit and are slow dancing in the breeze — we were giving others the gift of perspective? Allowing them to see the real us — empty and twisted — to see through us to The Road Ahead?