Busted Halo
feature: religion & spirituality
October 16th, 2012

Changing Seasons, Changing Lives


Fall has long been my favorite season, but this year I enter it with a different set of experiences and thoughts that have changed my perspective. I come to this season with the recent loss of my mother weighing on my heart.

There’s new meaning in the leaves falling and the trees mourning their coverings. Do they know they will be full of life and leaves once again? Do they know the God who created them has plans for their fullness of life and will return them to the splendor of green they are for the spring and summer?

I find myself asking these same questions. Will I feel full of life again after this season of mourning? Will God bring me through the darkness and help me transition into a spring way of life? I look to others for examples of living through such loss. I know classmates and friends who have lost parents and see how they continue to live their lives. I also look to family and friends who have offered their support in a difficult time. Friends were there to let me cry — even on the phone. And someone who also lost her own mother suddenly offered understanding and comfort from a place of truly knowing what I was going through. Those family and friends bring me a sense of peace and hope.

I know as a Catholic that all will be well amid the mourning. I know that God has a plan for full life for all of us when we are united in heaven, and that we will all see each other again. But in this season of mourning and missing someone so vital and important in my life and in the lives of others, I can’t help but wonder how I’ll get through it.

Longing for spring green

Growing up I always loved fall. I would take time each year to photograph the changing colors on the trees. And it never bothered me that after those new hues appeared for several weeks the trees would become bare. You know fall is going to happen every year. Yet, I am always surprised to find the leaves changing. This week I drove by a set of trees that I pass almost every day. And suddenly there it was — reds, oranges, and yellows creeping into the leaves. It reminded me of how fast things can change.

The sudden loss of my mother has taught me once again about how fragile life is and not to take anything for granted. It happened so fast. She was here one day and now she is not. It’s overwhelming at times. Sometimes life takes you completely by surprise.

Some of life’s changes we anticipate and know are coming; while others leave us breathless and wanting for the comfort of spring green. This year I fear the leaves completely falling off the trees. With the loss of a loved one it seems that the winter tree will be too strong a reminder that life appears to end.

Yet, I’ve been through these seasons many times. There will be another spring. I can trust that the leaves will return in splendor and the cycle of creation will happen all over again. New life will come from the loss of this season’s leaves. Maybe the autumn leaves can teach me. Maybe they can teach me not to be afraid because they know when it is time to change — perhaps they twitch with expectation and know that something special is planned. The leaves that fall nourish the ground and the roots of the trees take in those nutrients — it all continues to serve life even though we may see things as ending.

So, how can I carry on through this season of change? I plan to go outside and take a good look at a tree with its autumn leaves and thank God for the vibrant colors. I will acknowledge the strength of the tree as a symbol of the strength my mom showed in life. I know that she has been given new life in Christ. And she will live on in those who loved her.

Dear God,
This autumn brings a strong reminder that nothing stays the same. You know when the trees will change colors and shed their leaves in anticipation of yet another season. How do we know they will be green again? You know our lives before we even exist on the earth. Help me to trust that this change is meant to happen and that you will make things whole, and green, and alive once again. Amen.

The Author : Elizabeth A. Elliott
Elizabeth A. Elliott is a freelance writer from Omaha, Nebraska. She has degrees in journalism and music from Creighton University and a certificate in paralegal studies from the College of Saint Mary. Elizabeth has written for several publications including America, B2B magazine, Catholic Voice and Omaha World-Herald. Elizabeth is also a flutist and has played for more than 20 years.
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  • ruth housman

    I believe there is something about that vibrancy of the turning of the leaves, the colors of russet, of gold, and all these scarlets that do remind me of the Biblical burning bush. I have been so moved in autumn I have hugged one such tree and I was in tears from such splendor, such gloriy of color. It doesn’t take a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, or anyone except a loving being, to appreciate this beauty, this utter glory of season. And it could be, for those who read and think about words, the very words we use to communicate with each other, that season itself has an echo of see son, and for me, in asking the ultimate question, which is why this story, why that story, why did all these religious stories arise, the answer for me is language, as in the ringing phrase, In the Beginning Was the WORD.

    As in the sun also rises, so it is, the son also rises, a true alchemic word connect, and I do deeply perceive throughout BABEL a growing amazing connectivity that binds us all to a Divine Story and Story Teller. This means all spiritual traditions stem from the same Source. This mean we need to celebrate each other, and a diversity of truth, that is beautiful, and this means we need to use words, words themselves can be swords and that very word is a container for what hurts, in positive enhancing ways. It’s not about Jesus, more than, it’s about us all, and in French the word Je suis, I am, is very close, to Jesus, if you remove the candle that i burning within us all, the eternal i.

    Now no one is listening to me, and I am all over the WEB, truly a webbed feat. But I say, God wrote this story, and when I am allowed to go aloud, it’s going to happen. Welcome to the opening of a massive gate on human consciousness. Life is a door/ life is, adore. Live it with LOVE. An ancient message who time seems to be coming ever closer. If not now, then, when?

  • petrina7

    thank you for your honest and lovely sharing, and my deepest condolences on your loss. I will pray the Requiem for your mother and that you and your family will be able to accept her passing gracefully. For what it’s worth, I am undergoing my own set of trials and tribulations here and although there is no fall season in Malaysia, I reflect on the leaves changing colour and dropping off, knowing that winter must always give way to spring, I trust, hope and pray – the season of growth after what seems and feels like death will come.

  • Katie

    Thank you for sharing your mourning and helping me see how this fall season does feel so different after two significant losses. I appreciate seeing this as a season and allowing myself the time i need.

  • Ann Turner

    Elizabeth, my heart is open to you as you grieve the loss of your mother. It is huge. I just came upon Joyce Rupp’s book, “Fresh Bread and Other Gifts” etc., and she has a piece on October, the season of falling leaves, which is a “call to be vulnerable,” open to loss, and hurt, to letting go. She writes, “This is the season of vulnerability/ when trees open wide to wounding,/ when all the summer security/ is given away to another season.” Also, her “Your Sorrow Is My Sorrow,” helped me a LOT during a time of grief and loss.

  • Donna Olson

    I think that there will always be a little fall amidst the green leaves. Green will come but it will always be colored by your loss. It will less as time goes on. Keep relying on the Lord. Be aware of how the holy spirit touches you. I think that death does make you more in tune to his touch.

  • Ann Monaghan

    My mother passed away on Friday, October 12th after a 5 year progressive illness. I lost her a little more every day as the years went by. Thank you for putting into words what has been in my mind this past week. My prayers are with you. The knowledge that she awaits us all in perfect peace is the greatest comfort. God bless you.

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