Whether Fall Foliage or Leaf Peeping

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river.  Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail.  Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.  Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

  • Ezekiel 47:12

The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.  Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

  • Daniel 4:11-12

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

  • Revelation 22:1-2

The three Scripture references are all from dreams or vision.  Ezekiel’s dream of the river that flowed from the Temple, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a large tree that was visible to the ends of the earth, and the Apostle John’s vision of the new Heaven and the restoration of the Garden of Eden – the tree of life.  Each of these mentions beautiful leaves.

Ezekiel and John both speak of the leaves healing people.  I feel Joy, Peace, and Hope when I see the trees change, whether you call it the Fall foliage or you go Leaf Peeping.

I grew up in the South.  Fall (Autumn) was a welcome season because the oppressive heat of the summer would soon be over, football season was in the air, and there were good holidays in the near future.

Forget Halloween.  I went trick or treating one time in my youth, escorting my nephew through our neighborhood in Tupelo, MS.  A few of the folks along the street felt sorry for me and gave me a piece of candy, knowing that a 13-year old escorting a one year old was really babysitting, not trick or treating at all.  Even then, I did not need more than one pants pocket for my “stash.”  No, we are talking anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Of course, the bad news was that school was back in session.  Being an introvert, I loved the lonely summers and hated being packed into a room with a lot of other children.  Is that why I chose Chemical Engineering in college?  To get the smallest attendance in any degree program at the university?

But as for the foliage, in rural Mississippi, practically every forest is heavily planted with pine trees.  They never change color.  When we were in Germany, we visited friends in Krumbach, Bavaria.  South of the little town was a deciduous pine forest planted over Celtic burial mounds.  Two oddities in one:  Pine trees that lost their needles in winter and burial mounds, just like Native American burial mounds in the South in the USA where I grew up, but ancient Celts.  And a third oddity in that the Germans planted these trees over the mounds, no “park” to preserve the historicity of the site.

But, the pines of my youth stayed green.  A few deciduous trees had leaves that turned yellow, but almost all were like the oak – green, then brown, then down on the ground.  Yes, I am a cheesy poet.

When I was growing up, Autumn leaves were something to dream about and see photos of from exotic locations like Vermont and New Hampshire.

But I have almost lived as many years in Pennsylvania as I did in Mississippi, and I have never gotten tired of driving around a bend in the road and a tree will take my breath away.  Alas, the prettiest of these trees this year have all been in hairpin turns in the road with no chance of stopping, but the photo above has one small tree, nestled between those that have not started changing.  Nothing like the Nebuchadnezzar dream’s tree that could be seen from the ends of the earth.  Fifty feet further down the road and the little orange tree would be hidden.

I told my wife that my favorite color for trees was orange.  She must feel the same way.  I was driving her to dialysis the other day and she shouted, “Look at that one!”  We had seen countless yellow and red trees, but there was one on the golf course where the clinic is located at seemed to glow “ORANGE – look at me!!!!”

My favorite tree ever was an apple tree at the old Watertown Arsenal in Watertown, MA, the half of the arsenal where I was stationed was still a military research center at the time.  It was the location of my last active duty assignment before getting out of the military, and into reserve status.  The tree was almost perfectly spherical, and the color change happened from top to bottom.  From green to yellow to orange to red to the ground.  At one point, the top of the tree was bare, and a rainbow of differently colored rings surrounded the tree with the bottom leaves, shaded from the sunlight, still green.

Although Fall is a sign that the changes of life are at work, changes that will not happen in the new Earth, when I think of the visions of trees in the Scriptures above, I do not think of simple green leaves.  No.  I think of rainbow leaves.  I think of glowing leaves that when you walk around the corner and gaze at the tree, you must stop, catch your breath, and praise God, for something that beautiful could never happen by accident.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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