In my last post about spiritual seasons I said I would do a little research about what happens to trees and plants during autumn and winter. I knew trees and grass and other perennials don’t actually die during the winter. What I didn’t know is how important the processes are to the health and well-being of the plant/tree the importance of fall and winter. Not just for plants and trees, but for ourselves, spiritually speaking.
Leaves changing color and fluttering to the ground are probably the most obvious sign of autumn. Responding to the shortening hours of daylight, deciduous trees begin a process of self-preservation. Leaves are fragile in comparison to branches and trunks, unable to survive freezing temperatures. The tree shuts off the supply of chlorophyll (which supplies the green color). The yellows and oranges and reds are the result of other chemicals already present in the leaves, or produced during the light changes in the autumn.
|photo by ganzoman||via PhotoRee|
In other words, the tree senses what’s coming, and begins to prepare. It stores food produced in the leaves during the summer to sustain itself, stocking up a “plant pantry” to feed upon throughout the winter. Although trees appear dead, the winter period is called dormancy. Similar to hibernation in many animals, plants are resting, relying on the food they’ve stored up during the spring and summer. Attempts to force growth during this season (fertilizing, for example) may actually harm the plant.
And something else is going on during those long, cold, months of winter … the growth to come in the next spring and summer is protected and nurtured within the bud. Growth that is already prepared, already expected, already established. When “environmental conditions” are right, those buds will swell and blossom into the new life of spring.
Are you fretting over the dropping of your spiritual “leaves”? Fearful that spring will never come, and if it does, you’ll be left behind?
Don’t fret or fear. Start looking for the buds of new life. What “swells” in your heart when you think, talk, or hear about it? What thoughts and dreams and activities stir within you like a warm breeze? Yes, they may seem to be entirely different from anything you’ve done before, but that’s all right … God likes to do new things.
Meanwhile, enjoy the season you’re in, whatever season it may be, because God has a plan for you, and that plan is good!