Day One: Beneath the Canopy of Leaves
Scripture: Psalm 46:10, 51:6
Oak trees are always the last to lose their leaves. I never noticed this phenomenon until I began a daily practice of sitting still. It all began with a whim. One sunny November afternoon while I was walking my dog Josie, I decided to stop and sit on a park bench.
On that first afternoon, I looked at my watch after two minutes and then again after four. Turns out, five minutes on a park bench sounds short in principle but is a surprisingly long time in reality. The next day, I noticed a little more of my surroundings. Like the fact that the leaves of the burr oak on the edge of the ravine still clung stubborn and tenacious to the branches. Unlike the other trees, which had dropped their leaves like colorful confetti more than a month ago, the oaks were still fully dressed.
Turns out, I learned over the weeks and months of sitting in quiet solitude that I am a lot like the oak tree that clings so fiercely to its leaves. I suspect a lot of us are. We, too, clutch our camouflage—the person we present to the world, to our own selves, and even to God. We are afraid of what might happen if we drop our protective cover, afraid of how we could be seen or perceived, or how we may see or perceive our own selves. We are leery of what we may discover under all those layers.
Sitting in silence every day helped me see that my “leaves” of choice are busyness and productivity, drive and efficiency, achievement and success. I used those “leaves” to insulate me from my own deepest self, because, although I didn’t realize it consciously, I was afraid of what was underneath. I was afraid of who I would find if I began to prune away my layers of self-protection.
I suspect I’m not alone in my tendency to hide. Perhaps you, like me, are evading something, estranged from your truest, deepest self. And perhaps you, like me, haven’t the foggiest idea how to prune away your deadwood and begin to dismantle the structure you’ve built over a lifetime. My hope is that this devotional will help you begin that process. My hope is that you will join me on the journey toward uncovering the uniquely beautiful person God created you to be—your true self.
What are your “leaves” of choice that allow you to hide?