The afternoon sunlight bounced off the burning reds and oranges of the maple tree and hit my camera lens at the perfect angle.
I had spent most of my afternoon trying to capture the leaves while they were still showing off. I’m pretty sure I could’ve stood there forever, drinking in the sights, sounds, and smells. I’ve always believed there’s something special about autumn….how it feels like plump round pumpkins, dried broken leaves, clean crisp sheets, and hot apple pie all rolled into one. It has this way about it, almost tender in how it makes me nostalgic for the things of the past, yet hopeful…as though good things are just around the bend.
I think that’s why I have such a keen desire to photograph this time of year. I want to capture the moment in my camera so I can return to it over and over again…to experience those feelings long after the ground has frozen over and lies buried under inches of snow.
As I downloaded my images later that day, I couldn’t help but notice how the leaves contained such an expansive display of colors. They ranged from the deepest of reds, to burnt orange, and a delightful yellow…but what makes the leaves do this I wondered?
After looking it up, I discovered that leaves get their food (water and sunlight) through a process called photosynthesis. Once the days begin to grow shorter (less light) it triggers the trees to stop this process. As a result, the leaves make less chlorophyll, the chemical that causes them to appear green, and as the chlorophyll dies off, they change color. The color they turn depends on light. The more sunlight a leaf is exposed to, the more the leaf will be red. The less light produces your oranges and browns.
So in essence, as the chlorophyll breaks down, leaves are able to produce their most vivid colors. This made me think about the book I’m reviewing, “The Broken Way,” by Ann Voskamp. In it, Ann talks about how we handle the tragedies and broken parts of our lives. We are either crushed by them, or we learn how pain can “lead you into closer communion with Christ. A broken way.”
Voskamp says, “It’s not that your heart isn’t going to break; it’s how you let the brokenness be made into abundance afterward.”
I know this has been a tough year for most of us. We’ve experienced so much pain and brokenness. We’ve lost so much, yet in the midst of that brokenness we’ve learned the true value of people. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s in the breaking of our hearts, that we most experience the outpouring of love and what that truly means.
Voskamp goes on to say, “the seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast…Never be afraid of being a broken thing.”
As I sat there looking at those pictures I had taken of the beautiful leaves, I realized the leaves had to break to give us their color. (remember, it was only after the chlorophyl was dying did the colors shine their brightest.)
We all experience different degrees of pain and suffering. Our hearts can be broken numerous ways, but it’s how we deal with our brokenness that best determines how we heal. It’s in the breaking of our hearts where love is most likely to be experienced. We can allow those broken areas to become a way for love to get into easier, but most of all, we can allow the “Healer who binds up the wounds of the brokenhearted” be the One who leads the way. (Psalm 147:3) Only then will others be able to see the healing colors that come from the breaking of our hearts, for we sometimes have to have our hearts broken to let the love in.
Voskamp, Ann, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, Zondervan, Oct 25, 2016
Photos © 2016 Salina T Gibson
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