Today, I did one of the hardest things I've done as a single person: rake my yard and fill about 13 trash bags with leaves. Whew...
There was something grounding about filling my arms with leaves fallen from the large tree that provides shade for my yard all summer long. I thought about how these leaves had to fall in order to be picked up. They had to fall before they could be made new again.
What does falling look like in our lives? How do we surrender to His love? How do we die to ourselves in small or big ways?
When I was done bagging leaves, I made coffee, ate breakfast, and read my daily chapter of 1 Corinthians. Today was 1 Corinthians 13, the famous passage about love. This was a fitting read as I was still meditating on "falling for God." It's amazing to be reminded of how God is falling for you. He's falling for me. He's falling for His beloved children He created in, for, and through love! The next time you read 1 Corinthians 13, replace "love" with "God." After all, God is Love!
As I was picking up bunches of leaves, I recognized how God doesn't clump us together. We are different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some of us fall early and some fall later in the season. Some of us fall hard on our own while some of us need a push by the wind (aka Holy Spirit). He picks each of us up one-by-one and gifts us with our destiny. Some people He recognizes as His friends and some He doesn't. Some receive the reward of eternal life and some get thrown into the fire to burn.
As I threw some bunches of leaves into the fire pit, the flames kindled quickly and the heat increased. The leaves became charred and the fire died down. And just ashes remained.
“We each die countless little deaths on our way to the last. We die out of shame as humiliation. We perish from despair. And, of course, we die for love.” Clive Barker
I feel like a theme of 2020 has been Memento Mori. As a pandemic has spread across the world, we have recognized that no matter what our differences are, we all are reminded of our mortality. Most everyone in the world experienced some sort of quarantine. Technology connected us around the globe for virtual Masses, Adoration, Zoom calls, and conferences. We even watched news, reality shows, and day-time/late-night TV from people's living rooms.
No matter how much we try, we will not escape death. Death doesn't care what your paycheck is or how many followers you have on social media. Death doesn't care who you voted for or what language you speak. We don't know when or how death will arrive for each one of us, but we can be assured that it will come. Ready or not...
Even though we believe in the Resurrection having the final say, we still walk through Death. Even though we know the trees bloom beautifully in the Spring, we embrace their beautiful death in the Fall. Even though we know the end, we cannot skip the means. The rising is a miracle because of the dying. We're in awe of the leaves blooming because we watched in wonder as they were falling. We all have come from the cradle and we all return to the grave.
As Lin Manuel Miranda wrote in the lyrics to "Wait for It" in Hamilton, "Death doesn't discriminate:"
"Death doesn't discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall
And we break
And we make our mistakes
And if there's a reason I'm still alive
When everyone who loves me has died
I'm willing to wait for it"
So, we've talked about falling, but what about flipping the analogy on its head? In "Wait for It," Aaron Burr (originally played by Leslie Odom, Jr.) sings "... and if there's still a reason I'm alive...I'm willing to wait for it." If we have not yet fallen from the tree into eternal life with Our Lord, how are we living our life on the branch? How are we living as a branch that points to the Vine -- the Vine that connects us and gives us life?
In this election season, I have witnessed more division between us than ever before. We are interacting with one another like one type of tree or one color of a leaf is better than another. In reality, it's the variety that makes a yard, neighborhood, or park so spectacular this time of year. Rather than telling others how to be their leaf, let's reflect some sunlight onto them so we can all shimmer radiantly. Rather than always preaching, let us listen to the rustling of the wind that makes us both dance. What a beautiful song we make when we let the winds of the Holy Spirit work through us.
psithurism- the sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves.
Let us live well so we can die well.
Let us practice "falling" in love with Jesus daily so that we "fall" into His arms with faith and grace when He calls us home to be with Him as our Beloved forever.
It is okay that this year is not remembered as a time of rising. May we not miss the beauty that can be found in process of falling.
“Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand” ― Hayley Williams
“And falling's just another way to fly.”― Emilie Autumn
For me, falling again and again in 2020 has taught me that I am fragile on my own. I need the Church. I need a sense of community. I need to feel connected. Falling ill with a mysterious respiratory virus in February led me to watch The Chosen TV series. The Chosen TV series led me to Jonathan Roumie who plays Jesus. And Jonathan Roumie led me to The Chosen Prayer Warriors and encouraged me to boldly pray LIVE on my social media pages. Without the many falls that have come in this crazy year, I would not have had these discoveries that connected me with Christians around the globe!
What is God teaching you through your falls this Fall? How are you falling for Him? How is He letting you know that He's falling for you?
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