Holy Leaves

It was a beautiful day, and I went outside to spend some quality time in my hammock. Looking up, I could see the beautiful yellows and oranges of the Fall leaves set against the blue sky, white clouds. Some of the trees still had green leaves, and for others they had turned brown. A gust of wind came and I was treated to a shower of gently falling leaves.

I knew of course that leaves were falling because being almost dead, their attachments to the trees had been weakened enough for the wind to pull them loose. But I also knew that God was greeting me and sending me good tidings on this lovely day. The day before was not such a great day, both my wife and I were feeling out of sorts, and she became ill and spent a good part of the day in bed. But this morning we awoke to a new and promising day, free from physical or spiritual troubles, and I know that God was signaling to me his care and attention.

The fact that I knew the mechanism by which the leaves had come to provide me with a beautiful exhibition of nature, and also that I knew it was a message from Lord, and that both kinds of knowledge are simultaneously true, is a good summary of my theology.

But the experience of God smiling on me in my hammock wasn’t quite over. Several minutes after the breeze had stopped, a single leaf floated down and landed right on my chest. I picked it up, and saw that it was an ordinary brown leaf, but dotted with tiny white marks. On closer inspection I found that all of these dots were actually holes. When I put my hand behind them, they disappeared, since the light that made them appear white was blocked. Holding the leaf close to my eyes, I found I could see through the larger holes, but not the smaller ones.

I thought, what a great metaphor for scientific research. Our knowledge is full of holes, and for some, it isn’t that hard to see through and maybe find some new truths, but for others, it just seems to be impossible. I said a brief prayer of thanks to God for sending this useful message or reminder. While I lay there, lost in thought, another larger leaf floated down and also landed on me. It too was brown and had only a few marks on it. One was a quite large and obvious hole, and  near it were three white spots, that were not holes – they were too large, and they remained visible when I blocked the light behind them.

Of course I knew that all the holes, as well as the white spots had been made by some kind of insect, but I was more interested in trying to understand the divine messages in these leaves. The second one seemed more obscure, but as I looked carefully at those white almost translucent spots, I realized that my conclusions from the first leaf were a bit simplistic and incomplete. The second leaf indicated that things are not always so simple. Holes are obvious, but white spots may be many things, the beginning of the generation of a new hole, or maybe the leaf’s attempt to repair a previous hole. The exact nature of the white spot, what it was made of, how did it get there, was beyond my knowledge, and would require active effort to solve. Yes, I thought, again how appropriate for a scientist embarking on a new area of research (as I have been doing for a few weeks).

I closed my eyes, rocked a bit on the relaxing hammock, and thanked my God for His wisdom, guidance and attention, as well as for the amazing, undeserved blessings I had been given.

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