While writing Serving Challenge Kids, I did a lot of research on trees. I noticed a couple of oaks around my neighborhood didn’t change colors much in the fall. Late in the season their green leaves finally faded to a crusty brown color. Then throughout winter these oaks stubbornly hold onto their leaves, especially the stringy sad ones at the base, as long as they can. Winter snows come, then freezing temperatures or blustery Nebraska winds seem to be able to shake them. They held on tight without letting go!
So I went home and wrote a poem about what I saw.
Mr. Oak Tree
“Why don’t you let it go?” I asked
the trembling oak tree.
Fall has passed, then winter comes,
Still, you clutch those crusty leaves.
Those tired wispy little strands
just need to be let go,
Embrace your baldness, oak tree.
Come on then, tally ho!
You’re not a fir, your brown dead leaves
have faded into gray.
The other bare and quiet trees
have accepted winter’s fate.
Enter calm and restful hush;
the emptiness it brings.
Relax, you balding scared old man!
Don’t you see, there’s spring!
Scientists are not in agreement about why some trees hang onto their leaves. Some think it is because keeping those old dead leaves protects next year’s buds from bad weather or animals who are looking for a snack. When spring comes, the new buds push the old leaves off the branches and they finally fall to their resting place. Others debate that they are just simply dead things with no purpose.
Whether they are useful or not, the consensus is the same, the leaves are dead things. If you have been following along with us, we just finished the season of Lent. Lent is a time of letting go of dead things that may be hanging onto us.
In a season of change, we have to let go of the old in order to find the new.
Ask yourself these questions about letting go:
- What is dead right now in my life?
- What am I scared to lose?
- What’s keeping me from letting go of my original plan?
When those green leaves bud on Mr. Oak Tree, the old leaves fall gracefully. Are we so quick to do that? I know I struggle to let go of old things. I like to make and cross off things on my to-do List. It makes me feel in control. I like to meditate and dream about a future vacation, what I will pack, and what we will do. It takes me out of my reality. I like to criticize all the things I don’t like in my life, what I would change, and what could be better.
I don’t want to let these dead habits in my life fall off: negativity, checklists, and fantasizing about vacations. But they take up way too much space in my brain.
Is God calling you to let go of some dead habits in your life? Here are some signs you might be headed toward a new season:
- A habit you had is fading away.
- You feel the way you always did something is changing.
- You feel compelled to do something that’s outside your normal scope of ability. (Antsy or bored.)
- You don’t have all the answers to a future question.
- Things outside your control seem to have just happened in the right and place with details outside of your control.
- Others are speaking to you regarding a new thing without your initiation.
Even if you did not participate in Lent this year, you still felt the chill of winter. You likely saw the dead landscape and now the buds of something new.
Seasons are God’s design. I actually have a theory that everything should be cyclical: the ingredients we choose to eat should cycle with the seasons, the activity we do should vary with the time of year, and our participation in social media should have winters and summers. I even believe companies that plan for and implement a “dead” period will thrive and be better for it.
Daniel 2:21 says,
He [God] changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding.
In the anticipation of spring, what is God calling you to shake off today? What new season is He ushering in for you?
Challenge: Let go of something today. Do a spring cleaning. It might be a closet or a wardrobe switch. Perhaps it’s something inward and more spiritual. What needs to be cleaned out today?