Not just pretty leaves
Aren’t the fall colors amazing?
I just recently learned that the orange and yellow colors of our fall foliage are the result of carotenoids which are in the leaf throughout the growing season. The reason the leaf looks green until fall, however, is that chlorophyll is abundant during the growing season when the plant replenishes the chlorophyll. After the growing season in the fall, chlorophyll decreases, thus allowing the yellows and greens to color the leaves rather than the chlorophyll.
Carotenoids are present in leaves throughout the year; however, their orange-yellow colors are usually masked by green chlorophyll. As autumn approaches, certain influences both inside and outside the plant cause the chlorophylls to be replaced at a slower rate than they are being used up. During this period, with the total supply of chlorophylls gradually dwindling, the “masking” effect slowly fades away. Then other pigments that have been present (along with the chlorophylls) in the cells all during the leaf’s life begin to show through. Thus we have the beautiful yellow and orange leaf colors of fall.
The reds and purples of fall foliage are the result of another group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins. Unlike the carotenoids, these pigments are not present in the leaf throughout the growing season, but are actually produced toward the end of summer. They develop in late summer in the cells of the leaf. Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light, these variables affecting the amount of red foliage that is produced. When the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop. These red and purple pigments are present in about 10% of tree species in temperate regions, although in certain areas, such as New England, up to 70% of tree species may produce this brilliant red pigment.
We are as the green leaves and HaShem is as the carotenoids. Through much of our lives, especially during our vibrant youth, as the green leaves, we thrive sometimes not even knowing or seeing the presence of God within us and sustaining us. So often when we are in the busy-ness of living, we don’t see Him. For some of us, as we age, approaching the autumn of our lives, we may become more aware of His presence, it having been there all the time, just as the beauty of the orange and yellow leaves remind us of the beauty of this knowledge that we gain, no longer “masked” by the busy-ness/green time of not living in close relationship with Him.
Just as the red pigments, the anthocyanins, are created in the cells of the leaves when bright light is prevalent, HaShem reveals the truth of Yeshua to us. God’s presence is with us all along, as with the orange and yellow leaves, but more was needed to reach us as our Abba sent a piece of Himself, Yeshua, a uniquely different manifestation of HaShem. The revelation of the truth of Yeshua as the Messiah is inherently there all the time as well, just waiting to come to life in the cycle of our life, as the light of Him is revealed. And often people reach this truth in the autumn of their lives, just as Yeshua came to mankind in the end of days, this most beautiful deep color of fall representative of this profound truth of all truths.
Perhaps the prevalence of these disproportionately prevalent vibrant red colors in New England foretells a spiritual revival in this area . . . On the other hand, the brown color of leaves is not the result of a pigment, but rather cell walls, which may be evident when no coloring pigment is visible, as when we shun and turn away from Him, remaining hollow and dead inside.
The metaphor of the fall leaves and understanding this cycle is a poignant reminder of how our Abba is with us, nurturing and sustaining us, making His presence known in awesome ways that can’t be ignored, just as the brilliant colors of fall. The annual leaf changing pattern which raises our awareness is not unlike our High Holy Days that bring Him front and center, and “coincidentally” at this time of year as well, every year giving us another spectacular reminder to draw nearer to Him. This raising of awareness is an annual, every year opportunity to be reminded of our intimate, transformative, relationship with God.
For millennia we have lived with Him in our lives, as the yellow and orange pigments are everpresent in the leaves. And in these end of days, as in the autumn only as the year draws to a close, our Messiah Yeshua has come to us, formed from the very cells of Him, bound into our very being. The deep reds and purples of these fall days are suggestive of the blood and bruises Yeshua shed and endured for us. In the autumn of mankind’s days, how awesome to see His splendor.