One of our neighbors down the street has a tree that turns a brilliant orange every fall. I love driving toward my house and looking up to see those brightly colored leaves; it makes me smile every time.
Sometimes, though, my eyes drift toward the big tree in the corner of my own yard. The one with boring yellow leaves, always turning later than the others on the street. And I can’t help but wish I had my own orange-leaved tree.
This year has been the first fall Annalyn has really noticed and appreciated the autumn leaves. Because red is her favorite color of the day, she’s decided the red leaves are her favorites and looks for their trees everywhere we go.
Of course she has asked what my favorite is, and my answer came quickly. My favorite fall leaf color is bright orange – the red orange, not the yellow orange. Something about the brilliance of the hue or the contrast with a bright blue fall sky makes me heart beat a little faster. I love orange trees in the fall.
All of this got me to thinking.
Just like, at times, I find myself coveting my neighbor’s tree full of orange leaves, I also find myself wishing I could BE the orange tree.
I wish I could be the tree full of vibrant leaves, early in the season, catching every passing eye among a line of plain green or yellow plants.
I wish I could be the one that everyone stops to admire, pauses to photograph, smiles at and feels inspired to appreciate this season, this miracle of God’s creation.
I wish I could be the orange tree.
But is it possible that being the orange tree isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
What about that yellow tree, the one that takes its time turning into something other than plain, something not-so-common? Its metamorphosis might come later than the other trees on the block, but when it does, it stands out all the more against the harsh, empty branches of its neighbors. It stands, proud, in the corner of my yard, finally getting its chance to shine, full of light and color and nature.
Or how about those red trees that Annalyn loves so much? You can’t miss them, although – at least in our area – they aren’t all that common. They’re usually the smaller trees and the bushes, the ones that are most likely overlooked every other month of the year. But come October and November, they are set on fire, burning bright and beautiful in their own way.
And then there are the pale orange trees, those yellow orange ones I specifically labeled “not my favorite.” They don’t have the contrast the red orange ones do with the blue autumn sky, but put them in a crowd of darker-hued trees and wow, do they pop! Even though my brain knows those trees bear only dying leaves, my eyes always think they are offering flowers – buds of life that glow against the darker shades of the crowd.
Speaking of the darker shades of the crowd . . . those evergreens don’t get the joy of bursting into multi-colored flames every fall. No, they stay green as their name indicates, steady and solid throughout the changing seasons. They anchor the hillside and the tapestry God paints for us, standing back to let the rainbow of oaks and maples and fruit trees own the stage.
Just yesterday I noticed one more color I’d overlooked before. Some trees’ leaves turn a dark, burnt orange early on. And when the rainy days turn the sky slate gray, those dark orange leaves fly stark against the dreary backdrop, creating a visual drama that the happy, shiny leaves simply can’t pull off.
Can you believe God created all these different trees with all their different gifts for us?
Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation — every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened . . . And God saw that it was good.
Of course He did. And He did the same with us.
Maybe you’re not the brilliant orange tree, turning early and shining bright. Maybe your leaves are a more subtle shade or change later in the season – or even not at all.
Perhaps you’ve spent months or years feeling small and overlooked and you can’t imagine a day when you burn red and dazzle those who see you peeking out from the corner or from under those other big trees.
It’s possible you’ll only find your gifts show up during the dreary days or in a crowd or as you support those around you. Or maybe you ARE an orange tree, and your day to turn just hasn’t arrived yet.
No matter what kind of tree you are, you are magnificent.
You’re a masterpiece drawn by the Creator of all, designed for just the right time.
And you. will. shine.
Don’t envy the orange tree . . . or the red one . . . or the evergreen or the yellow leaves or the clever tree with several shades showing at once.
No, stand tall and reach high with your unique colors and seasons and far-reaching branches and roots. You are exactly the tree you were created to be.