As I rode to my office this morning, the autumn coolness and overcast skies seemed all too appropriate. A Volkswagen Jetta crossed my path doing thirty with a flat tire, filling the air with smoke and the unmistakable smell of burning rubber. Granted, a Houston fall does not really hit until December or January when the leaves finally begin to change. But with the sudden death of two loved ones in my church, and the death of a couple of other friends of friends, the gray skies and strong smells of this morning’s ride somehow made sense.
In 1912, Alice Guy Blanché made a silent film called “Falling Leaves.” It is about a little girl whose older sister is very ill with Consumption, as they called it back then. Trixie, the little girl, overhears the doctor tell her parents that her sister will pass away before the last leaf falls before the winter. And in a move of innocence that would only occur to an unsullied child, Trixie sneaks out of her room into the front yard with a ball of string and begins tying fallen leaves back onto the trees.
I wish I could do that today. I am surrounded this morning by broken hearts and disorientation. Emails, phone calls, face-to-face interactions and hugs dominate these days of overcast skies. I dream about having the power to make everything better, to say the right things, to quote the right Scriptures. But sometimes, the best thing we can do is to make sure that we simply embrace. Be together. Support one another. And in so doing, as a kind of physical analogy, we will tie the leaves on the trees for those of us who are no longer innocent, but who hold out hope.