It is Christmas Day.
This year, Christmas day is similar to most days, only quieter.
Waking up before dawn. Lighting candles on the altar. Steaming hot coffee. Morning quiet in the dark. Sharing dreams from the night – what are the signs coming from the inner world? Sun rises. Taking care of the animals. Tending the garden.
A winter storm last night – now fig leaves cover the back hill. Bare hands touching the damp earth, picking up the leaves, one by one, thousands of them, large and yellowed. No rake or blower. Just the quiet communion of human and earth, life touching life.
This fig tree is taller than the house… older than I… wiser in the ways of letting go.
The tree is our teacher, if we listen.
Every December, as the season changes, the fig leaves ‘turn’ from green to yellow. How do they know when it’s time to withdraw their energy from a mode of living that is coming to an end?
What would it be like to ready oneself to let go of a branch that has been one’s only home?
Just a few months earlier, the leaves unfurled from that branch. They became themselves. ‘Blossomed’, we say. Indeed, the fig fruits this summer were abundant and delicious.
But, alas, the season changed and the leaves let go and dropped to the ground. They did not cling to the branch just because it was the perfect place at one time. They did not fight the changing season.
Life is always evolving as both creation and destruction. It seems to be the case that: Nothing ever stays the same. Why do humans resist this inevitable truth and hang onto what ‘has been’?
What would happen if the leaves refused to let go?
There would be no springtime, no new leaves, no blossoms, no fruit, no new seeds germinating in the ground. Growth would cease. Would the tree eventually die from its refusal to evolve?
Covid-19 has been that strong wind of change. It has forced me to let go of my life as I knew it. On the personal level, it took the life of our son, four months ago. And then, just as swiftly, vicissitudes of life have taken our daughter unreachably far from us. Both in their twenties.
This Christmas is quiet. The year brought many changes… unexpected endings…
The silence today is real. No grandchildren squealing their delight or little feet running around the house. No adult children bantering with each other about politics. No clanking of crystal glasses around the table.
I am willing to let go of ‘what used to be.’ But, truthfully, I had not expected the emptiness of ‘what is’. This Christmas, I hear only the fire flickering. A gentle rain outside. My lovemate playing a soulful note on her guitar.
The house is so silent you can hear a fig leaf drop.
Perhaps in the silence of its letting go, the tree is saying ‘Yes’ to living.
—Fran Grace, author of The Power of Love: A Transformed Heart Changes the World, a book of life’s journey through many changing seasons … an embrace of love’s joy and heartbreak.