Leaves

Today in Baton Rouge is glorious!  The temperature is balmy.  The sky is blue and clear.  The breeze is gentle.  What a delightfully refreshing Sabbath!!!  As I write, hundreds of teens and adults are gathered at our church’s facilities experiencing an annual youth rally, appropriately titled “Renewal.”  The weather being so amazing as it is, I finally got around to setting up my new hammock in the backyard yesterday.  My in-laws gave it to me for Christmas, and I have been eager to spend time relaxing in it and soaking up God’s blessings.  I spent about a half hour in it yesterday, reading the first chapter of an intriguing novel given to me by a brave young woman as a way of saying “thank you.”  After finishing the chapter, I decided a nap would really be the way to go.  I had finished my day at the office on Friday at about noon, as is my general practice.  It was now 2:30, and the hammock and overhanging arms of the oak tree were gently lulling me into slumber.  Aaaaaahhhh.  Two hours of tranquility gently swaying to the breeze on my new hammock wrapped in my old LSU blanket.

Today my son, a delightful three year old with pale blonde hair, adorable dimples, and an irresistable twinkle in his eye, invited me to go get on the hammock with him.  We got in and out, pretended to sleep and snore, swung and tickled and had fun.  But my son, in his innocent wisdom, found the real treasure in the backyard today.  It wasn’t the hammock, great as it is.  He figured out what makes the hammock great – the creation in which it is surrounded.  The leaves!

He began to frolick about in the leaves, scooping them up and kicking them around.  As fun as it was watching him, I still didn’t get it.  I thank God He sent my son to help me out of my slumber and into the wonder of life.  My son grabbed my hands, began tugging on me, chanting “Pull!  Pull!”  He wanted me to dance and play and experience the wonder with him.  I did.  It was great!  But, he’s three and the moment passed quickly.  He was on to his swingset and slide, which are set up under the outermost branches of the oak.  However, now that he had invited me into the wonder of God’s creation, I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity…

So I began to rake.  The little boy in me was now fully awake and playing in the playground of God’s love.  You see, apparently the oaks around South Louisiana don’t shed their leaves in the fall, as so many other trees do.  They hold on to the old brown leaves until the fresh, new, green ones sprout forth and send them showering down in a soft cascading rain.  And these aren’t the big, crunchy oak leaves I raked as a boy in central Arkansas.  They are small and soft and limber and almost slippery when piled together.  These are the kind of leaves I imagine Tolkien’s elves would use to blanket the floors of the forest where their children play.  I raked them into a pile for my son, and he gratefully left the swingset, jumped into the soft, swishy mound of leafy fun, and wallowed.

And then, the best part.  We kinda figured this out together.  My son and I began to move our pile from directly under the tree to the foot of his long yellow slide.  He soon decided I could finish the job without further assistance, and began climbing and sliding – reveling in the simple pleasure of plowing through the growing pile of soft, slippery oak leaves each time he reached the bottom.  I don’t know which of us had more fun.  I was enraptured, and so was my boy.  Thank you, God, for leaves.  Thank you for the simple wisdom of a child at play.  Thank you for giving me the blessing of Sabbath.

May you discover a wonderful pile of leaves with someone you love today.  And may you feel the sweet embrace of God as He smiles and watches you play.

Shalom.

– Roger

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