Its cold out there and windy. The leaves fall off the trees, floating down to the roads and pavements in light elegant spirals. They shuffle dryly in the wind, into corners, even creeping under our front door.
Today I swept them up into piles, trying to scoop them with my hands into big orange plastic bags before the wind snatched them from my grasp. The leaves are hard to control once they have set themselves free from the tree that nurtured them through the summer months. On the tree, fixed by the need of the tree for oxygen and light, they are easily clipped and pruned. But once they fail to be given the sap of life, in the changing season, they release themselves to float away, perfect in shape and form, ready to nourish the earth for the next generation of leaves in the spring.
But they are very hard to gather up. Escaping from my fingers, hitching a ride on the faintest breeze, they refuse control, order, and discipline from me as the gardener. I desire order in my garden. I require conformity in my domain. I battle on.
Eventually my orange plastic bag is full. The leaves, so light, ethereal, mercurial, weigh a ton and I struggle to move the bag. I think about the mathematics of weights and measures. One leaf seems to weigh nothing but thousands of leaves have a serious effect on my muscle power. They are cripplingly heavy. Furthermore, as I look around, the same quantity as is in the bag, lie huddled under bushes, along my wall and begin launching themselves, feather-light, from the gutter on my roof.
As a gardener, keeping order in my land, I prefer the leaves on the trees. I know they are contained, and forget that some ordering power, greater than me, is seeing to it that the nourishment of the tree is circulated back to the earth in an everlasting cycle of life.
Be an autumn leaf. Free your self from conformity and old controlling ideas that nourished you once. Remember that by yourself you are feather light, but together with others of your kind you can weigh a ton. You are the ones that change the world for it is by the warmth of your touch you mulch the frail bud of courage in others, you compost the vitality of new growth in the springtime of ideas. Be an autumn leaf. Your kind, uncontained yet sustained, are placed by a hand far greater than you know.
The tree nourishes only itself – until it releases its autumn leaves so they are free to do their work.