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Leaves, Loss & Life: A Reflection

When we gather in November for All Souls day, we remember those we loved who have passed away. Death is always a difficult subject to discuss with Children, but it's also a great opportunity as well to discuss life and what is all around us. If we understand it more in the way of loss we can begin to look back at our own memories of loss and understand what might have helped us at that time. Maybe you have lost someone, either recently or some time ago. Or you may have lost a pet or even an item that you still think about, something special that can't be replaced. Loss happens, but God loves us and walks with us, and God is no stranger to loss. We hear in the story of Lazarus that "Jesus Wept". The amazing thing about this passage is that, Jesus knew that death was not the end and knew what was going to happen, and yet Jesus wept. But Jesus did not weep for Lazarus. Jesus wept for the people, Jesus saw the pain and grief in the people that loved Lazarus and wept for them. We have a God who weeps for our loss, who hears us and see's our pain. We aren't alone in this, and there is comfort in that. 

Children are profoundly aware of all that is around them and always seem to know whether something is right or not. The trees at this time of year are a beautiful reminder that loss is normal in life, but new life springs up from the ground. I encourage you as a family to go outside and try to catch a leaf as it falls off a tree. This little activity is a family tradition of mine, every October, we have to catch a leaf before it hits the ground, this way we have good luck for the rest of the year. My Grandma taught me this, and even into her 90s would be jumping and catching leaves with me. Now that I am far away from her, I still catch one in her honour and one for me as well. If you go out and do this, you will be surprised how much joy can be had from running and successfully catching a leaf. Afterwards, if you would like, you could have a conversation over a nice warm fall drink about the leaves and the trees and new life. When you have conversations like this, I am always surprised at the answers from children, sometimes they are silly and make you laugh and sometimes they are deeply profound and stick with you for a few days. When you have these conversations it's okay to lean into the imperfect, the vulnerable, the silly and wacky, there are no wrong answers, it's more about intentionally making space for deep questions and conversation. Below are some prompt questions:
  • What happens when the leaves fall from the trees?

  • How do you think the tree might feel?

  • Where do the leaves go? 

  • What happens next?

  • Have you ever lost anything? How did it feel?

  • What happened next?

  • What happens when you lose something?

  • Do you remember anything or anyone that helped you?

  • How do you think God feels when we lose something?

You can think about these things as you read this passage from Ecclesiastes 3:
"To everything, there is a season and a time to everything under heaven...There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad, and a time to dance with joy... There is a time to hug someone and a time to stop holding so tightly. There is a time to look for something and a time to consider it lost. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear cloth and a time to sew it. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to loathe. There is a time for war and a time for peace."
In this season, where we see loss and are thinking about who or what has passed, I wonder where God might be slowly, ever so quietly, be creating new life.