What Does the Season of Fall Teach us About the Interior Life?

"What does the season of fall teach us about the interior life" by Kathleen Billings (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2017 Kathleen Billings. All rights reserved.

After an early morning workout at the gym, I arrived home. As I pulled in the driveway my eyes were drawn to the large maple tree in our front yard. The sun was shining perfectly through it, and as the tree glistened from the sunlight, the wind delicately blew large amounts of autumn leaves ever so gracefully to the ground. It was stunning! For a few moments, time stood still – I was in awe and inspired to reflect on the spiritual significance of what I was witnessing.

As a tree sheds leaves in the fall for new life to be created inside the tree during the winter season, we are also called to shed that which is no longer producing good fruit in our lives, so God can create new life within us!

Shedding leaves helps trees to conserve water and energy. As cold weather approaches, hormones in the trees activate the process of abscission, in which the leaves are actively cut off of the tree by certain cells. At the beginning of the abscission process, trees reabsorb valuable nutrients from their leaves and store them for later use in their roots. At the end of the process, when the leaves have all been shed, a protective layer of cells grows over the exposed area. I find this all so fascinating and so applicable to the interior life.

When we shed things in our lives, good and bad, we conserve our personal resources of time and energy, which in turn frees up time to give more of ourselves freely to God and to following His will in our lives. We may shed on our own free will, or we may be forced to shed because of a season of life we find ourselves in. As the onset of winter activates the tree to shed its leaves, in a similar way, situations we go through have a way of triggering in us a desire and perhaps even a need to shed in a particular area of our life.

Just like the tree, though, before we let go and shed something in our life, we need to absorb the “valuable nutrients,” the good we have received from that which we are now letting go of and store it up in our roots, in the deepest part of who we are – to have available for later use – for spiritual growth in our interior lives. Day to day, moment to moment, we draw from the recess of our collective experiences to help us grow into the person God created us to be! Wisdom can be gained from every experience we enter in our lives and before we exit the experience or shed the entity, we store up the riches of wisdom in our hearts to draw from, like a wellspring, throughout our lives.

Interestingly, once the tree sheds its leaves, a protective layer covers the exposed area. Do we not do this in our lives? Letting go is hard! It is our human nature to cover the exposed wound of letting go, or of experiencing a loss. We want to protect ourselves from further damage and hurt. What is the protective layer that you use in your life? God is the only protective layer that will bring healing. In fact, God wants to bring new life forth from the wound!

In the winter, deciduous trees appear dead. They look lifeless. Yet new life is growing inside of them and will begin to emerge in the spring. Winter can seem so long though sometimes, right? When we are in the dead of winter in our lives, when we feel we have shed so much and perhaps we feel empty, we need to trust that God is working on the inside, creating something beautiful. In due season, in the springtime of our lives, that beauty will emerge.

In my own life, there have been many winters, but I found hope in Christ and I found peace in trusting in His plan for my life – in every season. I have always deeply known – spring will come.

We will all experience different seasons in our lives, from winter to spring, from summer to fall. In every season God is working in us and showing us through the natural world around us, that He is ever present, creating something extraordinary from the everyday ordinary!

Copyright 2017 Kathleen M Billings


About Author

Kathleen Billings blogs at seasonsoftheheartandhome.com. She writes about living her faith in every season, as a wife and a mother of five, amidst the ordinary moments each day that God wants to make extraordinary. She has a BA in Theology, is a regular blogger on marriage for the USCCB Website, a contributing author to the book "Amazing Grace for Mothers," and an active Catholic speaker.


  1. Love love love this! It is so true! I am not sure how I passed junior high biology without knowing the science behind shedding leaves. Or (more likely) it simply didn’t catch my fancy at the time to remember it.

    Isn’t it magnificent that our Father wisely hid Truths in nature? In our own nature, and out in nature? Thank you for sharing these reflections.

    • Thank you for your reply! Ha – I had to look up the science behind it to refresh myself ! I love how you put it ” our Father wisely hid truths in nature…. in our own nature and out in nature,” – powerful!

  2. Hi, Kathleen. I have always loved trees–their strength, their being able to bend with the wind, their beauty in each season. Thank you so much for your reflection on the season of fall and trees. I appreciated it so very much.

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