I had forgotten the sound, but I remember it now.
Standing in a New England woods, watching the autumn leaves drift through the canopy, I flash back. I remember tumbling through giant piles of leaves, the scratch of rakes against the lawn, the smell of old work gloves and leafy tannins. I remember the sunlight, how it glowed gold and orange until it felt I was somehow walking through the inner glow of a jack-o-lantern.
If you asked me about my favorite autumn memories, these are the ones that would stir. But I had forgotten, until just now, this one:
A sound that is softer than raindrops but more alive than snowflakes. Like a hundred incandescent butterflies sifting through the branches and settling like whispers on the wind.
I had forgotten what it was like to spin in a circle with my face turned upward to watch so many leaves tumble out of the trees that they bounce off my hat and brush my outstretched hands. They flow like a curtain. Their tiny applause is like a chortle of gratitude. But soft. So soft I have to close my eyes and simply listen.
I had forgotten what it was like to be caught inside a shower of leaves. Not the handful that I see every year and run laughing to play catch with the sky. But a golden whirl that makes me catch my breath, and hold out my arms to be filled.
In that moment, more than my arms are filled. My own spirit lifts and swirls as though also touched by the light. It’s like the word God gave to Ezekiel when He promised “showers of blessing” to His people. There is something in the shower that fills me with hope and wonder and gratitude. Far too often I run after stray blessings, trying to snatch one from the sky. In the whisper of the leaves, I hear God whisper, “Stop. Hold out your arms to be filled.”
God will send showers in their season. Not just showers of rain or showers of leaves, but showers to bless us, sustain us, protect us, deliver us. He will meet our needs in the darkness, in the emptiness, and in the loneliness. When God’s showers come, nothing will make us afraid. We will know the most beautiful certitude of all: that the Lord our God is with us, and that we are His people. (See Ezekiel 34:25-31.)
It is easy to remember this when the golden showers come. But I am so thankful that God’s promise is just as true when the wind seems to blow across empty skies.
The empty-sky times are when we learn to listen harder, dig deeper, and trust further.
If God can do this with leaves, just imagine what else he can do.
Close your eyes. There is a whisper as soft as a butterfly wing. Do you hear it?
Hold our your arms to be filled.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly, who recently passed away but is not forgotten. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.