In this season, we are astounded by the beauty of release. I’m talking about the leaves painting themselves in a palette of reds, golds, yellows, and oranges. Outside my window is a huge maple tree. Most of the canopy is green, but the lower edges are just starting to turn a beautiful burnt-orange. In its shade, my partner planted a tiny ornamental maple with feathery leaves that have just blazed into crimson. Down the street, a row of three young alders turned from green to canary-yellow almost overnight. And once they turn they begin to fall, blanketing the ground with bright colors that slowly fade to brown. This layer of mulch feeds the all-important microbes that keep soils healthy enough to support the growth of these wonderful trees. As they decompose, the leaves release vital nutrients into the soil that will feed a rush of new growth in the spring. Although the leaves were valuable to the tree during summer, gathering carbon from the air and making sugar from the sunlight, if they stayed all winter they would collect snow, weighing down and breaking the branches. So the tree lets them go. Having collected enough sugar and shown in brilliant color, each leaf simply waits for the sigh of a breeze that will help it to release from the twig and twirl down to the ground, fulfilling another part of the life-death-life cycle of the earth.
So I invite you, in this season of release, to notice if there is something in your life that is ready to die. What has served its purpose? What was once sweet food but is now extra weight? Is there something catching your attention with a canary-yellow flag that says “I’m ready to go!” Just notice. And if you’re ready, maybe take a breath. And if you’re ready, let it out with a sigh that helps this one thing release and twirl gently down to the earth.