Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday was the perfect autumn day here in Colorado. Light white cotton candy clouds melted into the blue sky and a plethora of colors quivered on the trees. At one point, I was driving along a parkway lined with trees while a slight breeze made its way through my open windows. Leaves scattered down around my car and to the ground only to be whipped up again by other cars. The cascading colors of falling leaves was truly elegant. It was a God given moment.
It reminded me of my fourth grader recently telling me about chlorophyll and its purpose. “Chlorophyll is the green stuff inside the leaf,” she said.
I found a more scientific answer at Wikipedia, “Chlorophyll plays a crucial role in producing food for the plant by synthesizing simple sugars from Sunlight + Carbon Dioxide + Water in the process of photosynthesis. The by-product of photosynthesis is Oxygen.”
The shorter autumn days and the cooler temperatures tell the trees that it’s time to sleep for the winter. They begin shutting down their photosynthesis factories—the chlorophyll in the leaves. That green matter dissipates leaving the pigments that were present all along in the leaves, the gold and oranges. The gorgeous red pigments we see are usually present in trees that store a good deal of glucose, like Maple trees. The cooler temperature of the nights combined with the glucose left in the leaves causes the red pigment to come bursting forth.
I am reminded of our human condition. Most times we keep ourselves at a steady even keel. Our emotions are in check and we have our chlorophyll walls securely in place. But when life’s weather changes and we are thrown into the cooler times, our walls, much like the chlorophyll dissipate. Our defenses down, the pigments that are left are our own true selves. We each respond differently to the oncoming changes of our lives. Some of us turn yellow, showing our bright sunny selves, not afraid to be brash and take on the obstacles before us. Some of us have lots of sugar stored up from the good times of summer. We use this sugar to make ourselves burst forth, smiling through the rough times. But sometimes we become the dry, cracked brown color and we allow the tough times of life to wither us to our emotional and spiritual death.
Autumn is a good time for me to remember this life lesson. It is up to me to use the good times of my life, when I am full of green chlorophyll, to fill me up with the sugars of life. So when the cooler times come and turn into the cold of winter I have stored sugar to reveal the vibrant soul of who I am.