Autumn is my favorite season here in Northeast Ohio.
I know I’m not alone. I love how the air actually feels cleaner as the temperature drops and the humidity finally recedes. I love the smell of wood burning in fireplaces or fire pits as I walk around my neighborhood. I love opening up my drawer full of sweaters that have been hibernating all year. But more than anything, I love the trees.
Trees are normally pretty humble. They stand in groups silently swaying as they take carbon dioxide and quietly change it into oxygen. They occasionally drop a branch during a storm but other than that you can go whole months without evening noticing a tree. That is until autumn hits and trees decide that it’s time to remind everyone of who they are. They burst into colors and then they shower the earth with tens of thousands of leaves. Each leaf lived the entire year providing for each breath you took and now flutters to the ground completely spent.
I was thinking of how much God must love trees. A tree in a garden stands right in the middle of the first chapter of the human drama. Later the prophet Isaiah tells the people of Israel that God has not forgotten them but will one day send a Savior. Isaiah likens this Messiah to a tree when he says, “a shoot will come up out of the stump of Jesse and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit…”
Centuries later a tree is cut down that will be fashioned into a cross. The men that cut that tree might have known it would be made into a cross but they had no idea that the tree they cut would be the source of life for the whole world. Finally, the disciple John, at the very end of his life, described a vision of the new heaven and the new earth when all things would be made new. He describes trees lining a river and he says the trees themselves will provide healing for the nations.
God decided to put trees on the earth like so many blades of grass. God loves trees and maybe that’s why every year he allows them to burst out into colors to remind us of the part they have played in our world and in our lives.
Pick up a leaf that has fallen to the ground today and marvel. The pattern of salvation is all around us. The trees cry out the glory of God for those who have ears to hear.