My walk today was extra long. My heart was burdened and I thought the workout would clear my head and change my perspective.
I have been plagued with a lot of pain recently and my ability to work has been diminished. I should not find this troubling at my age, but it is. I walked 7 Km. and as I walked, I counted and recalled the homes, along the route that I took, that I had worked in over the years. There were seven, on this little route (mostly through a park) and I began to wonder if what I did, really made a difference in the grand scheme of things.
I know that at the time, my clients were very happy to have the work done and happy to have me do it. Did it make a difference? I suppose temporarily it did.
I eventually needed to sit a while and do some stretches so I could make it back to my home. I was sitting on a high curb, trying to shut out the drone of the heavy traffic while thinking about my life and what I had accomplished and what I could do with the rest of it.
My mind was a muddle as a sudden small gust of wind whipped a leaf from the tree above me, right to my feet. It was unremarkable and then another small gust turned it right side up, and I was struck by the incredible beauty of the gold tinged with brilliant red, the veins and stem, blood red yet outlined in yellow, and the perfect Maple leaf shape.
Ah, yes. The autumn of life. And as I stared at the leaf, I realised that it had a purpose from the day it sprouted as a bud in the warm spring breezes. It worked hard photosynthesizing sunlight so the tree could be nourished, so it could thrive and grow. Without the leaf, the tree would eventually shrivel, dry up, and die. It hung on tenaciously as it was tossed by storms, pummeled by rain, clawed at by squirrels and birds, and yet it did its job to the end.
And now, it was no longer needed, its value was gone....but wait, it had one more purpose. Its creator, almighty God, in one of his strokes of creative genius, decided that a dying leaf should be brilliant and beautiful, a delight to the eye, singly or by the millions. It was a last chance to show God's glory before returning to the soil to nourish the next living plant.
But I am not brilliant like that leaf! There are those who are, who let their light and beauty shine and everyone can see it and appreciate it. It was uplifting and discouraging at the same time. I felt right then and there that I had no brilliance, nothing left. And as I mulled this thought about in my mind, what did I see but another leaf that was right in front of me the whole time. It was an Oak leaf, with no beauty, no brilliance, only a drab shade of brown, lying on the sidewalk, wet and crushed.
But did that leaf not also have the same purpose and value in its lifetime? Did it not also feed and nourish its own tree, the Oak? Had I not persevered and worked hard to provide for my family? Had I not done some good for those around me and for mankind on a broader scale. I realised that I had and that my work was just as valuable, if finish with brilliance, or with a bit of pain and dysfunction. I was mistaken to think that only the brilliantly coloured leaves give glory to God in their dying moments. Every shape, size and colour are a testament to a life of purpose and endurance.
The fresh air invigorated me, the brisk walk eased the pain somewhat, but it was the leaves, fluttering down from the almost bare branches, that inspired me.