As November in North Central Florida unfolds, I notice on my walks around the pond how many leaves have fallen on the path. I also notice, after the weekly landscape clean-up, how the area has transformed since the lushness of summer. The brush grass where the gray and white cranes rested is short and slightly browned. The shriveled wild berries on the bushes make a yummy feast for some local wildlife. Squirrels that once hid in the underbrush scurry past me, grabbing a few acorns and other morsels which rest nearby. No more humming of frogs or fluttering of tadpoles. The duck family’s grassy knoll is no longer private, and when I see them, they sun themselves, keeping a watchful eye on me and a neighborhood boy with his little red wagon.

Many people devote themselves to spring cleaning and I did also, after living through snow and ice in the Northeast and Michigan. Yet, as crews remove dried moss, frayed palm fronds and shredded pine bark to make room for new growth, I now see why others devote themselves to autumn clearing. As I consider many of my possessions, I find several items I thought I wanted, but no longer need. I realize I seek clear, open space for new growth in my life, too.

In my clearing process, I delivered a bag of clothes and household items to the hospice resale shop. I made three trips to the recycle bins to dump old papers and notes. I shredded old bills, paid long ago; I don’t know why I kept them. I donated four bags of books and CDs to the library for its next sale. I’ve trashed a bunch of old e-mails, the business long ago completed, happily and successfully. Within our church community, many of us cleared our closets and attics, gathering gently used backpacks, duffels, totes, and suitcases for children in foster care so they have an easy way to carry their belongings from place to place. As I continue clearing, I notice the empty spaces in my closet, drawers, bookshelves, and files. Even as nature prepares to go dormant for a while, I sense a newness and freshness which didn’t exist before.

Sometimes, I think we hang onto possessions, believing we’ll need them later, although we rarely do. And perhaps you’ve noticed, Blessed Reader, as I have, that even when I release one item, I find another nearly as useful and sometimes even better than the previous one.

Falling leaves, cleared brush, cloudy skies and darker days sadden some people, although they actually renew my faith. I remember, as autumn continues to unfold, just as it has every year before, how many autumns I’ve seen. I trust that this autumn is flowing into winter; then spring will return. And all we need is flowing for us, too, as we trust in the clear, open spaces.

© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.

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