Autumn leaves danced around us, bouncing effortlessly through the air as my husband and I hiked to a waterfall in the Smokey Mountains. What a picture of joy in the colors and beauty of the moment. A moment created by the gusty winds shaking the trees that towered at dizzying heights above us.

Winds that were setting leaves free from their tenuous October-hold on parent tree branches. Leaves of autumn. Fiery reds. Brilliant yellows. Soothing orange. Leaves tumbling out of the sky, brightly littering the landscape beside our path. Other leaves on the path, downed long enough to have lost their color, now muted our steps as we walked.

Nearing the promised waterfall, an out-cropping of the steep hillside held a wood hewn log bench beckoning us to rest. To sit and bask in the glow of autumn surrounding us. To listen to the rushing stream and cascading waters just ahead. And yes, we willingly accepted that invitation.

Immersed in the beauty of the moment, we simply sat and waited, though not knowing exactly for what. But oh, what a spectacle soon ensued as it began raining . . . raining leaves. Hundreds blown off branches high above us were making their way back to the earth. No fanfare, no noise, just gently falling leaves. Simple beauty. And peace. What a gift for one who seeks solitude, renewal, and refreshment of soul in the mountains.

Though normally inexplicably drawn to the power of rushing water, the beauty of immense landscapes or the strength of the mountains, that day it was the leaves that spoke to my soul. Or rather their Creator did as I fixed my gaze upward and watched leaves spiraling downward.

Some leaves fell like rockets. Others fluttered down in clumps one after another. Still others stuck together, falling at similar speeds. Yet it was none of those leaves that held my attention.

Rather I found myself mesmerized by a random stray leaf, still high above us even after most leaves lay solemnly on the ground.

This last leaf was not like the others. It wasn’t falling. It was dancing . . . flitting to and fro. Floating. Spinning. Hanging as if suspended in space. No sense of direction. No sense of time or rush or hurry. And apparently no worry about how many other leaves had already finished their trip to the bottom. Clearly, this leaf was enjoying the moment!

Oh, how I want to learn to dance as that leaf did. Recapture the joy of living. Stop rocketing through life, unaware of things and people around me. Not be so determined to stay clumped together with those around me, working and living at the same pace they do, or a faster one. Not be so chained to an inner drive to get more accomplished. Leave nothing undone. Work harder. And do it all . . . today! Never asking anyone, some days I fear not even my Lord, for help.

O God, I do so want to dance . . . with you. I want to spin wildly in place as my 4-year-old granddaughter does just because she can! I want to take time to float through some days, not always too busy to enjoy the beautiful scenery of our world. Taking time to be with you, my Lord. To be shaped by your hand. To find your joys in, and grace for, the living of all my days.

I want to savor moments with my family and friends. I want to live in the moment at hand, fully present as Christ was when He walked among humankind, deeply loving those around Him.

I want to spend my autumn days in love with You, O God. Doing that for which I was created. Praising my God. Rejoicing in my Redeemer. Soaking in the grace of my Savior. Speaking God’s love, grace and light into the darkness of hearts around me. Serving my Lord until there is no breath left in me.

I do want to dance, oh God, with you . . . and as I do, please pour out your joy, your love and you life through me.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
I will bless You as long as I live . . .
My mouth {will offer} praises with joyful lips.
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
Psalm 63:3-5, 7