This morning I took our family dog on a walk. It had been a very stressful few weeks both professionally and personally and I was tired: mentally, physically, and emotionally. I felt broken and even though I was out walking it was difficult to clear my head and lower my anxiety. I began to use a simple anxiety reducing strategy I teach my clients. As I walked (although you can do this anywhere, anytime) I focused on one of my five senses at a time.
What do I hear?
Birds chirping, wind blowing in the treas, squirrels jumping through the branches, cars in the distance.
What do I smell?
Lavender flowers, a flowing stream, the smell of the woods, my dog who needs a bath.
What do I taste?
My coffee from my breakfast, salt from my upper lip.
What am I touching?
The hard pavement under my feet, the sole of my flip flops, the breeze on my shoulders.
What do I see?
Birds flying, trees swaying, children playing.
And then I see a leaf.
This leaf that is laying perfectly on the path, that I would I have stepped on had I not been tuned in.
This leaf that had been nearly destroyed by disease and pests.
This leaf that was withering in the hot sun and the unforgiving elements around it.
I was intrigued by the leaf.
I felt like the leaf: torn and ravaged
I reached down to pick it up….to get a closer look.
I began to see the beauty in the leaf.
The intricate patterns that the climate had created.
The unique lace-like beauty that I had initially seen as destruction.
The veins of the leaf that serve to bring water and minerals from the root to the leaf had remained completely unbroken–still able to carry life to the leaf.
Despite the damage to the leaf, it was whole. It was strong.
I was the leaf.
Formed by experiences and pain that feel disfiguring but instead create beautiful, unique patterns.
Continuously fed by the veins of my faith, my family, and those around me when I need life and energy to continue.
You are the leaf.
Your neighbor is the leaf.
Laying in the hot sun on your path, needing to be noticed and lifted up in admiration of their unique strength.
Who are we to the leaves around us?
Are we the disease? The pests? Do we even notice the leaf or walk by it? Does it look too different from us? Too far gone? Too unimportant or hopeless?
Or are we those veins speaking life and love to a broken leaf?
The leaf reminded me today:
To see whats on my path
To appreciate uniqueness
To be thankful for the veins of life and hope
To acknowledge that even the pests and disease create artistry to be cherished
“In the whisper of the leaves appears an interchange of love” –William Jones