Autumn Leaves


A Classic (sung by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and many many others over the years-click on the Frank link to listen):

The falling leaves
Drift by my window
The falling leaves
Of red and gold

The song of course goes on, but I really like the tune. The music really matches the autumn theme in the words. I’ve been reflecting recently on the tree in our alley. If I say “the tree” there is no mistaking it for any other because it is the only tree in any direction in the alley. It’s striking to me to walk the length to the main road and not see a single leaf on the ground or on anyone else’s cars or driveways.  One of our residents is always outside sweeping up the millions of leaves that seem to accumulate each day.

I like our tree. There are other trees in our neighborhood, but this one is striking to me because it seems out of place. It grows right out of the cement and is the only thing resembling nature in the alley. Everything else seems so barren, but at our house, at Cornerstone Community, there is life. To me it has deep symbolism, the tension between death and life even in our own house. Men who deal with shedding their years of death and enslavement to drugs and alcohol are held together in love and community. A family, brotherhood, community; these are the branches of the tree of life whose roots are a God who calls each child Beloved. And like the tree, we have seasons of abundance, growth, budding, and beauty as well as seasons where death seems to prevail. But the beauty of spring is enhanced by the barrenness of winter–we know from what God has pulled us.

Maybe in the end I just like the tree because it’s at our house. If it grew a few houses away, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it quite as much (though I still find it odd that there are no other trees or patches of dirt). I like that something marks our house as different. You can’t really tell from the front, but if you come around back, you know which house we are. And that’s really how our community is too. You wouldn’t assume a lot about it from the way the house looks, or even from meeting the residents. We don’t look special. But we know our unique chosen-ness in God, that we are special and taken to be God’s Beloved, to embody some small part of new creation on earth now. Our little tree of life is representative of what is to come.

“On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Rev. 22


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