In late August, a weird freak wind gust came racing down our street during a storm and tore limbs off some of the old trees that line the street I live on. Across the street from our house, the huge old tree in our neighbors front yard was cut in half, vertically, and massive branches came crashing down, blocking the street. When the city crews came and hauled everything away, they spray painted a big orange circle on what was left of that tree. Every time I looked out my window, that bright orange caught my eye, and our whole family knew the tree wouldn’t be there long.
It’s funny how, when you know something is about to be taken away, you pay much more attention to it. Our family watched the leaves change color, watched the squirrels (and the neighbor’s cat) run up and down the trunk … all the while knowing that this is the last fall we’d see those things.
This afternoon they finally came to cut down the tree. It took three men, making cuts in the trunk, checking each others work, and then finally … the tree came down into the street. It stretched from our neighbor’s house, across the road, and onto our front lawn. The crew cleared away the debris and drove away.
Now when I look out the window, there’s a new space where there wasn’t one just a few hours ago. The sky looks different … I haven’t seen it unobscured by branches since I’ve lived here.
The time we spent paying extra attention to that tree, sitting by its deathbed, in a sense, is a good metaphor for autumn itself. What half-dead habits, broken relationships, unhelpful patterns, are we holding onto because they’ve always been there? Give those things the courtesy, the respect of placing your attention on them. See them for what they are …
In this season of letting go of what no longer serves us, imagine how different your view could be if you removed the things that kept you from seeing farther, from having a clear path.