I saw them for the first time yesterday. The colours that tell the old familiar, yet ever-wonderful story of Autumn. The reds and the oranges - the colour of the leaves that have started to fall ever so gently from the trees that are getting ready, announcing the change of seasons from Summer to Autumn. And this season holds so much more change than the sight that I delight in every year of the trees turning from green to reds and oranges, as I anticipate entering a new season of life that does not hold the beautiful weight of the old-familiar feeling of Autumn.
My thoughts turn from the tree that's shedding its leaves to the bare branches of the prayer tree at school, made by man to hang prayers from the heart to the God who created the beauty of trees in Autumn, and knows our hearts. The branches of the prayer tree are bare and outstretched, ready for the new school year and the leaves which will come to adorn its branches - like nature in reverse - as children and adults come to the quiet space of the church room to be still and write the prayers of their hearts on paper leaves to hang from the prayer tree.
Today, a leaf with a heartfelt prayer was hung from one of the branches, for a precious child with a head of fiery red hair, who is being broken and beaten with words and threats as his peers mock him. The colour of his hair glorious and glowing like fire, has become a target for them to take aim at, and the mothering heart that is growing within me breaks over the pain and bullying this precious boy is experiencing. And once again, I am reminded of the need we have for the great love of God to speak words of kindness and compassion over the broken places in hearts that taunt and tease, rather than celebrating the beauty in the differences in the way we look.