Television reveals the horrors: smoking ruins, shattered lives, loved ones lost, distraught survivors. Voices drone: retaliation, anthrax, fears of hijacking and destruction. Bombs drop, troops search for terrorists. There are wars and rumors of wars.
Walking in the woods, all this recedes. Nature’s orchestra plays a peaceful melody, directed by an unseen hand. The wind plays the treetops—a loud crescendo diminishing to a still, quiet voice. The locusts’ song harmonizes, and the calling jays and cardinals trill an occasional solo. Periodically, a reminder of nearby civilization echoes above the symphony: the drone of an airplane, the muffled roar of nearby traffic, the distant bark of a dog, and laughter of children playing. I follow the path to a stream cutting a gully through the woodlands. A wooden bridge spans 15 to 20 feet from one bank to another. I sit on the bridge and gaze at the muddy water flowing eight feet below. A man and his two young sons walk across. The bridge vibrates as they walk, their footsteps hollow on its wooden planks: the only reminder that I am not alone.
The yellowing leaves fall, fluttering to their autumn repose. I watch one slowly descend until it lands in the brown water, creating rapidly expanding ripples. The leaf drifts in the lazy stream, turning this way and that, wondering where this new journey will lead. Watching from above, I spy danger ahead, but the leaf floats on, oblivious of its future, stopping occasionally to explore a sand bar or a branch snaking out of the brown waterway. Now, the leaf is caught in the eddying swirls of the narrow stream, spinning, lost and confused. “Hold on little leaf,” I want to say, “still waters lie ahead.”
So nature reminds me of the constant ebb and flow, the cycle of life. In autumn everything dies and winter lies ahead, stark and bare. Gray skies and bare landscapes shiver in the cold. Once, we were like the leaf, green and glorious in the top of the tree, part of a beautiful symphony of song. Now, our greenness lost, we are torn from the tree of our security and have fallen into unknown waters. We know not where the currents will take us. We know not what lies ahead—calm, peaceful waters, or dangerous currents and eddying whirlpools. From above, one can see the path of the current. So we must be borne along by the current of our times, knowing we are watched from above.
The leaf falls and winter comes, but spring always follows winter—the stark landscape replaced by the green blush of spring and the riot of bright flowers joyfully glad to be alive. Rest and be at peace as you travel on your journey, little leaf. Be secure in the knowledge that you are watched from above.
The voices of gloom and terror clamor all around us, but the voice of God speaks to us in nature, in the leaves falling silently in autumn and in new life bursting forth in the spring. Be not afraid. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NKJ). Let that still, small voice speak to your heart and give you peace.
Oh God, when troubles threaten to overwhelm me, help me remember you are always with me and will never forsake me.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”