God Stuff

You Are Only Falling

I grew up in a two story log cabin. It had one of those large open living areas with a loft and really high ceiling. There were three rooms upstairs. My brother’s bedroom, a bathroom and my bedroom. My bedroom was to the right of what’s called a half landing staircase. As the name implies, halfway up the stairs there was a landing area. On the landing area, my mother had setup some decorations. There was an antique sewing machine and a ceramic pot with dried flowers inside it. The pot was large, about two feet tall and was something of a family heirloom.

As children will often do, I would run up and down the stairs. And as mothers will often do, she would tell me not to do that. One day as I was coming down the stairs, on the very first step, I fell.

Gracefully of course.

As I recall, it was something like a base runner sliding feet first into second. But really, it was probably more like a child riding careening out of control down a water slide. Feet in the air. Bottom bouncing off each step. Until I reached the landing.

And the ceramic pot.

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All material on Earth can be divided into two basic types, organic and inorganic. While the definitions vary, basically organic material is made up of compounds which contain carbon. Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. So, essentially, organic material is either currently alive or was living in the past. This material could be man-made, but only if it is made from natural organic compounds. Organic materials include items such as wood, paper and textiles. It also includes all living organisms. So, trees, fish, birds, flowers, cows, octopi, and human beings.

You are made of organic material.

Inorganic material does not contain carbon. It isn’t alive. Inorganic materials include stone, metal, minerals, and glass.

And the ceramic pot.

Now, all material is degradable. Over time wind, water, sunlight and microorganisms work through a process called decomposition to break material down into simpler, more stable, components.

Inorganic materials decompose. Rocks erode, break down and fall apart. Buildings crumble. Even the styrofoam cup that held your 32 ounce sweet tea will eventually fade away. It may just take a few million more years.

But when organic materials decompose, something special happens. Organic materials return their life back to the Earth. Energy, nutrients and water all return to the food chain. In other words, the things that create life never go away, they just take another form.

* * * * * * * * *

When I fell down the stairs that day and slid feet first into the second base that was my mom’s ceramic pot, I shattered it into approximately one billion pieces. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put that thing back together.

* * * * * * * * *

This past Saturday was a simply perfect autumn day. A chill in the air, the leaves just beginning to turn. So, I went to the woods. The woods have a certain feel to them, don’t they? It’s an ecosystem all its own. When you listen to the wind, or the sound of a distant creek, when you see the Autumn leaves in all their splendor you can’t help but feel more alive. And there is a smell. It’s a musty damp smell.

It’s decomposition.

A typical definition of this process might say that living organisms have died and are slowly returning to the soil to help form new life. And there is some truth to that. But maybe a better and more accurate way to look at it is that life is simply changing form. It’s taking a new shape. The energy is still there.

Carbon. Oxygen. Organic material.


In the book of John, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” When Jesus said this, I think we can presume He was speaking to people who were currently living and breathing. They weren’t dead. They were alive. But were they living?

You are alive.

But are you living?

For Jesus, there was a new kind of life. More than just a beating heart or oxygen filled lungs. One with greater hope, joy, and love. But of course, one with more pain, struggle and heartbreak as well. Jesus is speaking about a life lived to its fullness. No holding back. One lived not just for yourself, but for others and with others. A life with unlimited potential. Where the hungry are fed and thirsty are quenched. A life where you are given total freedom. And a new kind of freedom. Not just a freedom from, but a freedom for. A freedom for bringing new light and new life into the world. That is what life is all about. You are a part of the process. A part of the cycle. You are alive, but are you living?

* * * * * * * * *

As I stood there, alone in the woods, watching leaves of brilliant red and gold swirl and fall to the ground, I realized that no one, no one in their right mind could watch this spectacle with anything less than profound amazement. No one would describe the trees as broken. Yet there they were falling apart. In a few short weeks they would be bare. Limbs once full and green would be empty. It’s leaves on the ground. But the tree isn’t broken and the leaves aren’t dying. The energy is still there. It’s only changing. Alive and living.

Do you feel broken? Are you far less than perfect? Have you made a complete mess of life? Has life made a complete mess of you?

My mom’s ceramic pot was broken. Shattered in a billion pieces. It wasn’t alive. It never was.

But the leaves. The leaves, like you, are organic, made up of the very building blocks of life.

The leaves aren’t broken. They’re only falling.

And maybe you are too.




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