It happened yesterday. I saw it. I watched as the leaf gently released from the branch above me and slowly floated to the ground – the breeze carrying it around until it finally landed right at my feet.
Autumn fell upon us last week and for those of us living in Ontario, we are about to witness one of nature’s most beautiful transformations. Over the course of the next month, as the air cools and the days shorten – right before the maple leaves fall – they will turn from their usual green to vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow…turning our landscape into the most spectacular masterpiece.
It’s what happens here before the depths of winter…before the cold falls upon us…before the world becomes still.
And there’s something to be learned from it all; that even nature knows when to let go.
I’ll always remember what it felt like to sit in that room, while the light flooded through the windows. I had my head in my hands, wondering how I got there. Wondering how I was losing someone that meant so much to me. The pain of it all made it hard to breathe and the weight of it all made it hard to move.
After years of friendship, for reasons no one could have predicted, things had just gotten complicated and hard. Too hard. People were getting hurt and integrity was being lost and tears were being shed. For a long time, we could feel the strain and we fought against the tension. We struggled to hold on to the friendship we had always known and slowly mourned the agony of watching it slip between our fingers. Until one day, it finally cracked under all the pressure. What had been a rare and beautiful friendship was now a thousand little pieces shattered on the floor…quite possibly beyond repair.
And so, we sat next each other one cold morning and honored our friendship the only way we knew how; by saying goodbye on our terms. The tears fell down our face and the grief filled every corner of the room…but there we were…in the Autumn of our friendship.
Knowing each other transformed us…changed us…altered us. But our friendship was also dying. Its time was coming to an end and we just couldn’t hold on any longer. So we had to let go and get caught in the wind and fall wherever we may.
Our time together was a really incredible season that created a truly radiant landscape in my life. But the winter that followed was hard. There’s a certain stillness that comes with absence and it can radiate through every part of your body. The presence of loss is very real. So you endure the desolate months as best as you can…moving on yet still knowing how very cold and quiet it all feels.
As I watched nature begin to unclench its fist, I was brought back to the resounding discomfort that often comes with letting go. The pain of watching something fall. I took a deep breath and let the memories flood over me. Winter is coming.
I bent down and picked up the leaf from the ground, noticing how beautiful it had become in the change. And that’s when I realized it; we often get so caught up thinking about winter, that we forget what Autumn is really about…
This incredible time of growth and renewal. A time when everything that was turns into everything it can be. A time that could never exist if the trees weren’t willing release everything in their due time.
Nature doesn’t resist letting go because it’s afraid of the loss. Nature embraces letting go because it creates space for something new.
The winter comes and gives us time to sit through the absence, to find our bearings and to honour what was left behind. But nature doesn’t endure in the name of grief…it endures in the name of possibility.
And so it could be with life.
Sometimes we have to let go of the beauty we created with someone else…we have to breathe through the ache that their absence leaves behind…and we have to believe in nature’s greatest act of surrender; trusting that after every cold winter…always comes Spring.
Maybe once the snow melts, there will be a season of renewal for our friendship. Maybe not. But either way, once the leaves have fallen…something new always awaits.