“. . . unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” – John 12:24
Ah, the annual autumn battle with the oak leaves! We do love the eight large gorgeous oak trees that surround our home, especially the beautiful fall colors they produce – that is, until they begin raining down into big piles all over the yard. This past week we have raked leaves every single day in desperate attempt to keep our yard looking nice, a seemingly endless battle as the overnight breeze simply blows down more. Yet, not far away the wooded trails where we often jog and bike the leaves remain unviolated by rakes and leaf blowers creating a thick carpet over the ground where during the course of winter they are left to slowly decay, enriching the soil and providing nourishment for the new vegetation in the forthcoming spring. It is nature’s way of demonstrating how death becomes life-giving. Mind you, it is only the foliage that dies, not the entire tree.
We humans are like that. When a part of our self-centered nature dies it becomes life-giving. When we surrender our addictions and other things we think we can’t live without, we position ourselves to nourish, restore and replenish others, to offer them new life. There is no better example of this than what occurs in Alcoholics Anonymous which is comprised of people who have surrendered their addictions to God through the support of fellow human beings who have walked the same path. It is a beautiful thing how one who has surrendered – that is, died to part of oneself – is able to in turn “sponsor” another through his or her surrender, a dying that becomes life-giving. Lives are recovered, relationships restored, and new ones formed. AA works because one person’s death to a life of addiction becomes life-giving to another.
Each of us is like a grain of wheat, and until we die to ourselves, we remain just a grain of wheat; but if we die, we produce much fruit; our death becomes life-giving, filling our lives and those of others with abundance, meaning, and purpose.
Autumn is such a beautiful time, my favorite season of the year. It is a time when part of nature dies, yet from that death new life is nourished – just like what we do when part of us dies.