The evening light falls through bare branches to the forest floor, illuminating the few remaining leaves that are not on the ground. Soon darkness will fall. Soon the leaves will fall. So ends the day.
On a recent afternoon walk around Hinckley Lake, a glimpse of something caught my full attention. There, at the edge of the shadowy woods, was a red leaf illuminated from behind by a narrow beam of sunlight. The leaf was bright as flame and struck me as ever so beautiful. Studying the image later I noticed the leaf was not perfect in structure, nor were its neighbors on the same plant. I guess the lesson here is that, despite our imperfections, we can shine and be admired if we let the inner light shine through.
Whether butterfly or flower, we wear out. Our time is limited. We beat our wings or unfold our petals and we go out into the world. And, eventually, we wear out. Perhaps it is best to shine as brightly as we can, while we may, so it cannot be said we did not make the most of what we have.
Here is a quotation I found in a beautiful essay, "Astronomy Lessons," by Anne Cushman, which appeared in the May 2008 edition of Shambhala Sun. There are so very many levels of meaning to be found in these few lines…
Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
— Zen Chant, "Identity of Relative and Absolute"