Monday, October 1, 2012

The Parable of the Autumn Leaves

A few days ago I received a big manila envelope in the mail. It was from one of my old college roommates. I opened the envelope and looked inside. Tears immediately came to my eyes.

Wanna know what she sent?

An envelope filled with real live autumn leaves!

 Let me tell you a parable that my mom taught to me, and let me tell you why you'll want to know this parable...

It is a parable that was whispered into the heart and mind of a single mother of three children who was struggling to put herself through college and was having a particularly hard time in a biology class. I vividly remember when my mom first told me this parable, I was about 12-years-old and I could sense how the parable gave her strength and courage. I have added a bit to it over the years, but it is basically the same, simple, yet powerful, ray of light that our Father sent to His daughter who needed a reason to not give up

First some important facts to brush up on:
1. Photosynthesis is the process by which leaves use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar.
 2. A chemical called chlorophyll helps photosynthesis happen.
3. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color.
(If science intimidates you, stick with me here. You'll see an awesome scientific lesson you will love.)

The Parable of the Autumn Leaves

During the Spring and Summer months the leaves on the trees seem almost happy. Life is good during these months. Sunlight is abundant. Water is plentiful. The amount of chlorophyll in each leaf is at the perfect levels for each leaf to be nice and comfy in their different shades of green.

But that comfort doesn't come without work. The leaves are constantly working to use the sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into nourishment - this is called Photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis literally means "to put together with light". The leaves are put together with the light they receive from the sun each day. (Remember this - it is important)

What many do not know is that mixed in with those beautiful shades of green, are other undetected colors - brown, orange and yellow. These other colors are always there but all we see, when times are ideal, is the green.

As summer comes to an end and the days grow cooler and the sunlight is not as abundant, the amount of chlorophyll in each leaf decreases. Suddenly, the other colors lying within each leaf begin to appear on the leaf's surface.

As mentioned above, oranges, yellows and browns are in great abundance. But some leaves even turn brilliant reds and purples. That is because there is left over sugar in each leaf from the photosynthesis process - stored nourishment.

Can you see the parable?
Are we like autumn leaves?

There are seasons of our lives. We pass through many springs, summers, autumns and winters on a continual basis. Some seasons last longer than others and some seasons are more pleasant than others. It is a given that our autumns and winters will come. That is part of mortality.

Remember, photosynthesis means, "to put together with light". I submit that we human beings are constantly in the midst of a spiritual photosynthesis. We can use the light that is shining down upon us to create nourishment. That light is called the Light of Christ and the truth about this light is that it is the"Divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things. It is the law by which all things are governed in heaven and on earth (D&C 88:6–13). It also helps people understand gospel truths and helps to put them on that gospel path which leads to salvation (John 3:19–21; 12:46; Alma 26:15; 32:35; D&C 93:28–29, 31–32, 40, 42)." (The Light of Christ,

In our own personal autumns, the air is cooler and the winds begin to blow. It may seem that the light around us is not as abundant as before. The comfortable green hues of ourselves begin to fade away.

If, during the comfortable times, we are putting ourselves together with light, the autumns of our lives won't need to be times when we immediately lose all life and fall off of the tree. Our true colors will come through and they will be beautiful. And if we have stored nourishment (an abundance of spiritual light we have harnessed and saved up) our true colors will be the brilliant reds and purples exemplified in some leaves.

And how do we put ourselves together with light and store nourishment for autumn? Well, the answer is simple...we stay close to...

 The Light,

even in warm, comfortable times. We can only store nourishment when we don't need every bit of nourishment we are creating. So, even when we don't feel those cooler winds blowing, we must prepare ourselves for the times when they will come...and they will come.

    There is One who showed us how to endure autumn with the most beautiful colors imaginable...

    Of His ordeal in Gethsemane, the Savior, Himself, said:

    16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
     17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
     18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
     19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19)

    He is saying that it was hard. He is saying that even though He is a God, what He suffered in Gethsemane almost did Him in. Have you felt that way before? I have.

    He is also saying that He didn't give up. He didn't let it overcome Him. He thought of our Father and He thought of you and me and He endured to the end. What helps you endure to the end? Are there loved ones you can think of to help you endure? The Savior thought of our Father. Thinking of returning Home to our Father in Heaven helps me endure the autumns and winters as well.

    The Savior's true colors were breathtakingly brilliant and they have given us the opportunity to have eternal life. His true colors have given Him the understanding of exactly what it is like to be us. In those moments, He learned what it feels like to be you. He knows everything and loves you still and offers you relief and forgiveness and healing.

    Here is the interesting observation I have made about autumn, so many of us love that season. We love the change. We love the cooler temperatures. We love the many different colors. Is it possible that we sense that this season can be found within ourselves as well? Do we sense that our spiritual autumns are not to be feared, but rather embraced as a time when new colors within us come to life? Look at that picture above this...every tree is different and adds so much to the landscape. Hmmmm...something to think about.

    One more thought...There is a difference between our spiritual photosynthesis and the process the leaves go through...if we find ourselves in an autumn with no stored nourishment and our true colors aren't that great, we can search out the SON and nourishment will begin to flow immediately.
     I love knowing that.

    For a more in depth study of The Light of Christ, click on this link: Light of Christ 


    1. Ever since you shared this parable with me so many years ago, it has changed the way that I look at Autumn leaves. It occurs to me that when we are green, we are young and full of life. As we begin to experience challenges,our vibrant colors begin to show. Who we really are begins to be revealed in spectacular measure.

      I also love what you said about photosynthesis meaning "to put together with light". I have never heard it explained just that way, but I love it.

      Thank you for sharing this today. I love you, Lisa Love!

    2. I LOVE your thought process. You inspire me!

    3. Lis, you may think you haven't been given a talent for crafting. I would have to differ. Your leaf project is beautiful. But the talent you have developed so well is another and of so much more worth. The way you see things and share your insights and write is so amazing. You bless all of us in so many ways. thank you for sharing this wonderful parable. Each time I read anything you write, I am left to ponder. What an amazing and gifted woman you are!

    4. I was just looking for pictures for my desk top background, and your leaves story really lifted my soul. Thank you x


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