This maple tree outside my parents house here in Illinois was the first tree for miles around to have changed into it’s glorious fall gown. I snapped this photo on my iphone just a few days into the season on September 25th. Of course, my phone can’t come close to capturing the brilliant color, the play of light through the leaves & the graceful presence of a burning red tree amidst a world still green. Red maples often take my breath away in the peak of their color & this tree was truly a beautiful sight.
According to my parents, this tree has been struggling all summer long. They had less than average rain & a little more than the expected share of hot summer days this year so it’s understandable that this tree had trouble keeping its leaves healthy & vibrant. They had months of construction on the road that runs next to their home. They had weeks of heavy machinery driving over & around their yard. It was a hot, dry, noisy, dusty & precarious time. This tree was weary. Yet once the construction wound down & the trucks drove away, the rains of late summer began to fall and the tree began it’s transformation.
Today as I glanced out my bedroom window I saw the maple tree standing bare & pensive against a grey fall sky. All the surrounding foliage was now dressed for the pageant of colors. Standing there, I was a little sad that this tree had already spent is glorious colors.
As I put away laundry & glanced again out the window I let my mind dwell on this lone red maple. During the first days of autumn while the other trees were still catching the last rays of summer this maple became a spectacle of beauty. All at once it transformed before our eyes in a stellar display no other tree quite managed. It was as though this maple tree, with all it’s struggles, became the clarion call of the season.
This tree has been speaking to me now for weeks. I have heard it’s voice whisper of beauty & hardship, of loneliness & solidarity. My heart has called out and claimed this beauty for it’s own. I feel very much like this tree. Our summer has been chaotic & noisy. Our year has been very hard. God has been doing so much good for us, yet, it has taken a toll on me. I arrived in Illinois at the beginning of autumn with 4 kids & a dog in tow, half of our earthly possessions in a cargo trailer & no place to call my own. This woman was weary. Yet God showers me with His goodness & grace, so, I am praying that a transformation takes place.
I pray that I am just like this maple tree, brilliant in splendor because of the struggles I have experienced this year. Oh that I will not hold back His Spirit at work in me but allow Him to surround me so that we may all bask in the beauty that is brought out of brokenness.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21