Raking Leaves By Michaeleen Hinca

As  I was raking leaves the other day – one of my most favorite autumn activities –  I was thinking back to the first day of my LifeWays training back in August of 1998 and remembering how we planted tulip bulbs in the front yard area of that original LifeWays site in East Troy, WI.
That simple activity was such a profound experience for me for several reasons:
I had planted so little in my life ~ there was a tomato and a pepper plant one summer almost 12 years earlier ~ but never had I committed something to the earth that would “live on” and then bloom on some distant day, with or without me!
The instructor talked to us about the innate need to put something beautiful into the world.  And how the earth would keep that bulb safe and protected, (even through a Wisconsin winter!) until the warmth of spring would support the life of the new plant and a thing of beauty would appear and bring joy to others; similarly the work we do with the young and what we put into them today will bloom and be beautiful tomorrow.
The smell of the earth on a cool autumn day and the joy of working with the soil was unexpected and welcome.
And as it happened, this activity coincided with my first miscarriage.  I was devastated by the loss of that child.  The baby would have “bloomed” that following spring, but now that life had ended.  This act of planting “for the future” was incredibly cathartic and so very deeply healing.
The effects of that activity have stayed with me over the years and I reflect on them in familiar and unexpected ways.  Those reflections are like an old friend with whom I have a shared beautiful memory.
Each Autumn, when the colors emerge and the air grows dry and crisp, I am moved to harvest what has been planted and to plant with great hope for the future.  Then-toddlers are now-teenagers and the joy of planting bulbs is again relived, renewing the hope in each of us.