A delightful story about how a little girl learns about God from the Autumn leaves
By Jonathan Futch
The little girl ran to the window and anxiously looked outside. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the sunlight made long, golden paths through the deep blue autumn sky. A gentle breeze played with multi-colored leaves recently fallen from the trees nearby inviting her to join its happy game. Quickly, she went to her room and found a warm jacket to wear. Hurrying towards the door, the little girl called out, “Grandfather, can we go outside for a walk, now? It’s so pretty, today.”
Walking to the door from another room, the older man reached down and, lifting his granddaughter high into the air, gave her a big hug. “Are you really ready to go outside for a walk?” he asked.“Yes!” came the quick reply. And with that, they opened the door to begin an afternoon’s journey of fun and adventure.
The brisk, late autumn air felt so refreshing, but made them both glad they had remembered to wear their warm jackets. Leaves swirled around them delightfully as the breeze continued to play its happy game. And the sun, smiling down warmly, invited them to follow its radiant beams.
They had walked together only a short distance when the little girl suddenly stopped and in wide-eyed amazement said, “Grandfather…look at all the leaves. They’re so beautiful! Where did all of those colors come from?”
“How many colors do you see?” he replied. The little girl stood thoughtfully for a moment, trying her best to count all the bright colors of the fallen leaves. “Well…I can see red and orange and yellow and brown and…oh, grandfather, there are just too many lovely colors for me to be able to count them! Why are the leaves all lying on the ground, now? Why couldn’t they have stayed up on the trees? Wouldn’t that be better for them? Then, people wouldn’t step on them and break their lovely colors into tiny pieces.”
“Do you remember the snow last winter?” her grandfather asked with a smile. “Brrr…I remember that it was very cold,” she replied. “And springtime…?” he inquired further. “Yes,” she quickly responded, “the little flowers were so pretty and the birds songs seemed so happy!” “And, what did you do last summer?” the old man asked with a twinkle in his eye. “Oh, it was so exciting, grandfather. We went to see the ocean, remember? Even though the air felt so hot, the water was really cool…and tasted very salty! I splashed in it and played for a long, long time. I will never forget how big it was!”
They walked along a little farther, each deep in their own thoughts. Then, grandfather stooped down and picked up a fallen leaf. Handing it to his little granddaughter, he said, “When this leaf was high up on the tree during the springtime and summer, it brought beauty and joy to everyone. But, it wasn’t able to touch us with its life…not until it fell from the tree this autumn. We couldn’t get up to it very easily, so it had to come down to us.”
His granddaughter stared at the leaf intently, holding it tenderly in her hands and turning it over and over to get a better look at it. “Can it ever get back on the tree?” she asked after a few moments. “Yes,” her grandfather answered, “but not just the way you see it now.” “What do you mean, Grandfather?” the child asked. The old man pondered her question for a moment and then answered, “Well…if people don’t unthinkingly sweep it up and destroy it, this leaf will naturally lie quietly on the ground each day until winter comes and covers it up with a snowy, white blanket. Through the long winter days and nights, the leaf will be cuddled up snugly under its blanket of snow. Then, in the springtime when the snow begins to melt, the little leaf will be turned into part of the soft, black dirt in which the tree grows. It will help the dirt to nourish the tree and cause brand, new leaves to grow. So, you see, in this way the leaf will be able to be a part of the tree again. But, to do so, it has to give its life so that a new life can begin.”
“How did you learn all about leaves, Grandfather?” the little girl asked. “Just by listening to the story that all these beautiful things in nature show and tell me each day,” her grandfather replied. “Will you tell me the story, Grandfather…please, will you?” his granddaughter begged. “Okay,” he said, “let’s sit down on those big rocks over there and I’ll tell you the story.” When they were both comfortably seated, the child listened eagerly to catch every word her grandfather said. Then, he began telling the story: “A long, long time ago, on a dark, dark night in a far away country, a bright star appeared in the sky. And, nearby, a little baby was born in a cold, lonely place where animals usually sleep. The baby’s name was Jesus…”
Jonathan Futch is the director of Mercy Cares Ministries, a network of churches and ministries around the world specializing persecuted peoples