For the first time I can remember, I have really begun to appreciate the beauty that is late fall. Right now, most of the trees have lost their leaves, leaving behind a drab, brown, dead-looking landscape. Signs of life are few and far between, save the fat little squirrels running around foraging for the last remnants of the year’s crop of nuts.

However, in this dreary, lifeless appearance, I noticed not the deadness, but the renewal that results from it. I guess this is probably a result of all the changes that have happened in my life this year. While I am not in a rush to re-experience the trials that I have gone through over the course of the past 11 months, I do look back on them with fondness because of the growth that has happened as a result.

Something that we really don’t ever think about is that while the trees look dead in the winter, that is far from the truth. While the visible life of the tree is hidden from view, beneath the surface it continues to grow and develop. Even though from outward appearances nothing is happening, the roots of the tree are still extending beyond their current state, preparing the tree for the years ahead in a way that will make it stronger and more resistant to the struggles of the environment around it.

Likewise, there are times in our lives when we go through trials, and based on outward appearances, we have ceased to grow. Sometimes it can even seem like nothing is left of our lives but the remnants of its former beauty crunching beneath the feet of those around us. However, I truly believe that during those times of struggle and strain, we are able to grow much more deeply than we ever could during the normal circumstances of life.

And then, once we have passed through the strains of our winter, our lives are able to give birth to the hope of a bright new season, blossoming in ways that are now better able to weather the storms of life that once would have blown us over, but now only serve to testify to the growth that has happened during those difficult times.