Catch & Release

I walk past these twin maples nearly every day, and for a couple weeks they were ablaze in stunning red. And then, seemingly quite suddenly, they dropped their glorious colors, laying skirts across the grass at their feet.

This Nebraska fall has been particularly lovely, with frost coming later than it often does, allowing more time for the trees to do their magic and enabling more outdoor adventures later into the year.

As I push the stroller up and down the festive streets, I point out my favorite trees to Larkin, my 16-month-old daughter, and note the subtle and not-so-subtle changes each day: “more orange there today;” “oh look at that pile of yellow leaves there…”

Autumn is my favorite time of year. There’s something about the crispness of the air along with the colorful displays of change.

On a recent walk though, I questioned a bit why I prefer it over spring, when life returns after the harshness of a midwestern winter.

There’s so much hope in spring. Renewal.
If spring is about hope, I thought, fall is about trust.

There is a death happening, in all its autumnal splendor, but the trees aren’t dying. They are simply letting go–releasing what they needed this year and trusting that next year’s provision will come.

2020 brought so much turmoil to the world but also a stillness–staying home as much as possible, finding new ways to operate in the day-to-day, and considering what was essential.

2021, though the pandemic continues to overstay its welcome, seems to have brought a lot of questions about what do we need to return to and what are we comfortable with releasing.

In a recent conversation, a friend told me that she really thrived during the pandemic, working from home and out from under the cloud of social demands. The return to relative normal with work, her son’s school, and calendar-filling events and gatherings have her overwhelmed and struggling.
(Note: I would not have met this friend without the pandemic and we’ve never met in person. I am deeply grateful for new bonds made possible by terrible circumstances.)

So what can be released?

Can we…
Release floundering relationships to the past?
Pass on social gatherings that feel like obligations?
Adjust our work lives for the longterm?

Can we consider and catch hold of what is truly important and release that which is, in fact, nonessential?

As I admire the leaves, hold them up to the light, and let them float back to the ground, I want to acknowledge where I’ve been and surrender what is no longer needed.

I am leaning into this season of change, breathing in the air that suggests the cold is coming soon, looking up to the vivid display of transition against a bright blue November sky, and trusting that provision will come.
That fall will turn winter and again to spring and hope.
That the darkness of Friday will once again break to the joy of Sunday morning.

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