Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Book of Nature and the Falling Leaves

Father Alexander Men teaches that God has given us two books: the book of nature and the book of the Bible. That is to say, hidden within nature there is something of God's knowledge, presence, pointing or creative imagination to be discovered.

At least in the northern hemisphere it's the season of autumn. We call it the fall as we watch the leaves, having completed the hard work of providing oxygen. shade and air purification, now drop or fall from the trees. 

So what's the book of nature teaching us now - in October? I might ask of myself or of my family, "What do I need to drop in order to become a healthier or more evolved and whole human person?" "What resistance do we need to drop as a family (or as a couple) so to possess more fully human hearts?"

And it is very wonderful to note that behind every dropped leaf there's next years leaf bud. Very small and brown with a hardened shell to protect from the winter's cold, there it is - a tiny promise of hope, growth,  joy and possibility.

Some leaves hold on tighter than others. The dead leaves of an oak tree hang on even through the winter and won't drop until the spring. So, in my inner life, my emotional or behavioral life, what am I holding on-to so tightly because I don't yet trust there's the little bud of promise behind the letting go - the surrender? 

The folks who try to live by the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous understand this: their meetings often held in church basements. And so it's sometimes said that there's more spirituality going on in the downstairs church than the upstairs church. Downstairs, people are wrestling mightily with these issues of surrender and letting go, so be more human, healed and whole persons, while upstairs, (perhaps), the sermon is half-baked, the one verse of the hymn is sung without luster, the scriptures are read without refection and the prayers recited from monotonous memory. No questions asked.

Maybe we should all find a particularly beautiful fallen leaf this year and take it with us to church - contemplating it before Mass begins: asking ourselves about the letting go and belief in the promise-life-bud right behind.


  1. This is post is a great metaphor for our inner lives. Dropping leaves and the promise of new growth to come. I have read this several times this morning and find something new to take with me with each reading. The leaves are piling up already.

  2. Anything to make us more human and whole. Good thoughts for an Autumn day Father Stephen.

  3. There is great depth to this post. We can shed layer after layer until stripped bare. Only then can we start anew. Fresh leaves to adorn our branches.

  4. It is just as hard for us to shed our leaves as it is to grow back new ones. But this should not prevent us from trying.

  5. Very Nice Post Fr Stephen. As I wrestle with Surrender daily. I thank you for the nice metaphor. It is truly amazing how the principles of the spiritual life are found in nature. The calm before the storm. The calm after the storm. Light follows darkness. Light also prevails and trumps darkness. We are to be the salt of the earth also to be like stars in the night sky how they illumine the night sky we must bring light where there is darkness, Tried like silver istried and refined as Gold is refined, etc.

    Very nice thoughts to keep in the front of our mind as we go through out day. ( Even Atheistic Scientists will say our conciouss is in our forehead). The top portion of the Brain is called the Cerebrum, like Cherubim. And that is where we reason, and hold our knowledge and intellect) on your forehead you have a coronal suture. Coronal-meaning crown. We are the Kings Children, and this is The Kings Kingdome.

    1. I was reading these thoughts and thought, "Dang, this person is really connecting - oh - I like this - cerebrum like cherubim. HA! Then I saw it was YOU! Carry on! God bless you in your good work!

  6. I will look at falling leaves with a new found sense of awe and think of this metaphor for life. You have helped me so much to dig deeper and deeper into myself and to examine the person I am and the Christian that I want to be. I greatly admire people who force themselves to wrestle with their issues in order to let go and to grow spiritually.

  7. In AA if you're really living by the 12 Steps someone might say about you, "You've got a real program," a plan for living well. Every Christian ought to have a "program". It's called The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5,6,7.