On such a beautiful autumn day with the brilliant sunshine and the leaves looking their optimal best, I am reminded of another day when I worked for my dad on the tree crew.
~ ~ ~ ~
I got out of the truck and stared at the front yard of our customer. In the center of it stood two birch trees, their white bark a mixture of smoothness, yet weathered—with black lines and creases that showed how well they had endured over the seasons. For a moment, the birch trees reminded me of two fine ladies, arrayed in all their splendor. They had gorgeous yellow leaves, most still attached to their white slender limbs. But in a perfect arc that encircled the garden below lay the leaves like a golden carpet of dreams, untrampled. The sun highlighted the yellow warmth that spread out from the center of the arc, and I couldn’t look away. It was breathtaking. I shielded my eyes to look up at the trees but the sun blinded me as it shone through the leaves. Very naturally and delicately, a few leaves swirled to the ground. One landed on my head, and I reached to hold it in my hand and then let it gently careen in its path to add to the carpet below.
“Hey Amy, you comin’ or what?” Charley, our main climber, called out to me.
“Yeah, got the chain saw ‘n’ am headed there now.”
“Well, shake a leg. Can’t wait all day for that saw!”
I rushed to drop off the gear to the crew. “You guys! Look at this!” I cried.
A pond lay before me with sizable, round rocks stacked upon one another. A fountain of water trickled down into the smooth, natural pool below. A dozen red and gold fish swam in the water, in and out of lily pads and natural barricades.
“Yeah, your dad said you’d like that.” Charley grinned. “Looks like some kinda pond in the Orient filled with those fish. Where’d ya live? In Japan?”
“Exactly! The carp! They’d swim in these same kinds of pools in front of the shops and businesses and near the ancient, stone bridges I would go by every day. It is like being back in Japan.” For a moment, I was transported to the autumn I spent in Kobe, and the koinobori, leaf-changing season, I witnessed with the beautiful momiji, that is, the maple, trees.
The damp earth in the yard where I was working was filled with dark, very aged, ceramic pots all of which held white flowers of varying heights. Japan. I ached for the simple days and traditional beauty I had found there—the ancient temples, shy glimpses of Mt. Fuji, Japanese calligraphy, the rivers, the countryside—me in my desire to drink it all in.
My life back then was like the pure, bright carpet of leaves that I’d witnessed just moments earlier as it lay, undisturbed by any footsteps in the front yard. That was my golden carpet of dreams that lay before me. I remember thinking one day in Japan that I would continue to see the world, and experience the wonders of the many cultures that existed within its perimeter. Life could not be any more beautiful. My dream was so simple and I had my whole life before me.
“Hey Amy! Quit dreamin’. Headache!” Charley tossed down a can of tree paint. I ducked. Fortunately, it fell a few feet away. I picked it up and tossed it in the wheelbarrow that held some rope and chunks of wood he’d dropped earlier from the tree.
As I worked throughout the day, I silently gave tribute to those dreams. Every time I trampled from the backyard to the driveway to do my job, my glance would stray to the birch trees in front. The leaves drew me to them as they tripped down to the meet the circle of leaves below. It looked like an arena, some kind of splendid rink before me, its natural beauty bathed in a yellow glow. Then, I’d sigh and pick up a rake to start back to work.
At the end of the day, one of the men on our crew took a leaf blower to the leaves. He disturbed the natural scene I’d envied for the past four hours. I realized that the sun was temporary and the leaves would get dark and moldy when the rains eventually pounded them at some later point. Such perfect moments last but a second in our lifetime, so we need to gather warmth from them. Then, gaily toss them back out like so many leaves scattered from our arms and get on with our life, crunching a pathway through the center of our own arena as these special moments, like the leaves, brush up against us. Our dreams can be fulfilled every day as we touch the lives of those God brings us into contact with.
My father never traveled much of anywhere and yet he left an indelible imprint on those right in his midst. His golden carpet of dreams got crunched time and time again; even so, he continued to throw out his arms and invent new dreams, all the while widening his circle and sharing his warmth. I can learn a lot from his style of life.
Lord, help me to welcome new people and goals into my life. Show me how to step onto that golden carpet of new dreams, drink in its beauty so that it will keep me fresh and alive. Let those dreams bear the witness that You would have me to bear. Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day and time of reflection.