Morning Walks and Empty Nests/ Unexpected Hug from a Tree

Today was a big day. Dropped my daughter off at the airport as she heads across the country for another year away at university. Next child starting their final year of high school. Empty nest looming. Feeling sad, so I took myself to the woods.

The early-morning air felt cool on my skin; will need a jacket soon. Hoping to see an owl, because seeing those serenely observant creatures always makes for a better day, and I was in need of a little hug from nature. Walking deeper into the forest, I paused in a place frequented by owls and tilted my head to look up into the higher branches.

No owls, today of all days.

Instead, with dramatic effect, a few leaves fell, gently, one at a time, just like the tears rolling down my cheek. There was deep fellowship in that. Today the forest was reminding me that for all things there is a season for letting go.

A flash of realization: this isn’t an ending that I need to dread, like a death, just like these trees aren’t dying as they prepare for winter. They are just letting go of their leaves because it is time for the next beginning. Already the forest floor smells more earthy, preparing for the feast of leaves to come. I don’t need to be afraid of the changes because everything is unfolding as it needs to. This nest emptying out is one more part of the whole.

Our culture sees change and endings as fearful, damaging, permanent. We have demonized uncertainty. Yet this glimpse of the bigger and ancient picture reminded me that change isn’t necessarily about scarcity or loss. These trees will quietly continue on with their stroll through the circular seasons. Fear doesn’t need to be here.

So I will pause and watch the leaves fall, and planes fly away, with a lump in my throat but also peace in my heart. Thank you trees .