The Leaves

Written on: November 30, 2018

Sister Josephine Patti wrote this reflection while on retreat a few years ago. We are grateful to her for sharing this with us here.


Rocking gently, her hands cradled the steaming mug of fragrant coffee.  Savoring the hazelnut cream aroma and flavor, she gazed pensively at the bare oak branches as they traced a feathery pattern against the bright, cloudless sky.  A few brown leaves clung here and there as though afraid to let go.  Afraid of the unknown into which they would float; afraid to leave the security and safety of the tree that birthed them….. Or, she wondered, was it the tree that held the leaves tightly?  Was the tree afraid to be stripped of these fragile remainders of nourishment and protection…unwilling to be stripped bare?

Listening to the music drifting from a CD player, she reflected that she was like the leaves…afraid of letting go.  Like the tree, she was afraid of the painful stripping of the idols and false gods that she clung to…though they contained no nourishment.  She feared to once more face the freedom and love of the God who beckoned gently.

The brown leaves fluttered in the light breeze refusing to be torn away from the grip that held them.  A yellow-breasted oriole settled briefly in the oak before once more darting off on an urgent errand. A squirrel, tail tucked over its back and head, settled down for a snooze in the crook between branch and trunk.  A pair of doves paused high in the branches as a flock of Canada geese winged noisily in precise formation.

Sighing, she sat in the old rocker; arms polished by years of use, and wondered who she was in her innermost self.   What did she have to show for sixty plus years of life on this earth?  What were her accomplishments?  What would remain if those accomplishments were stripped from her?   As she watched, three leaves silently fluttered past, freed at last from the restraining hold of the tree.  She suddenly realized as each left the sheltering protection of the tree, a place was left behind for the new leaves of spring to break through…..

…..Now, in the evening, the tree stands etched against a darkening sky.  The noisy cacophony of geese shatters the stillness as they settle for the night.  In spite of her fears, she feels a deep peace grow within, at the center of her being.

Josephine Patti, GNSH


2 thoughts on “The Leaves

  1. Roberta Breitbeil says:

    Beautiful thoughts on a simple but spiritually parallel natural event.

  2. Eileen White says:

    Meant to call or e-mail you right away when I read this in NewsNotes — so fine, so moving. Thank you so much for sharing another of your many talents, Jo. This is an exquisite piece. Eileen

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