This time every year, nature gently teaches us the beauty of letting go. Colorful falling leaves release their hold and dance and twirl in the autumn wind, gracefully showing us the way.
There’s a scientific reason deciduous trees let go of their leaves in winter. It’s a process called abscission. Rather than fruitlessly expend energy during the harsh winter months, trees shed their leaves to conserve resources. The process helps trees retain water and keeps them from blowing over. As a bonus, fallen leaves add replenishing nutrients to the soil. In a beautiful act of self-preservation, trees let go in order to stay healthy and alive.
The trees’ annual decluttering process might initially inspire us to let go of a few material things ourselves. Broken things. Meaningless things. Uncomfortable things. Too many things. Perfectly wonderful things that no longer suit our current season of life.
It’s no easy task to rake all our physical clutter into a big pile like so many fallen leaves. Harder still is letting go of intangible things that clutter our hearts and minds. As we watch the autumn leaves cut loose and fly, what can we let go of to help protect, replenish and nurture the very root of our being?
Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” We convince ourselves we must tightly cling to old memories, thoughts, and behaviors, and we spend precious energy feeding and keeping them alive. Letting them go frees us to rest, grow stronger and be happier.
If we were sitting in my classroom, I might assign us to draw a tree with falling leaves. On each leaf, we’d write something we’re ready to let go. Those little leaves would probably hold some very big words like worry, resentment, guilt, hurt and anger. What would you write on a leaf you are finally ready to let drift away?
Poet May Sarton wrote, “I think of trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep. Imitate the trees.” Autumn is such a special time of year. Let’s follow its lead and graciously let go in preparation for a golden season of gratitude and abundance. §
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
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