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The Leaf

Posted on Friday, August 25, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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28 Comments
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Maple-Tree-Leaf

In my backyard, a single green leaf fell from a branch off a big Maple. I picked it up, looked at it, and began to think. Veins within veins within veins, the leaf was a work of art – one of God’s fractals, a repeating pattern – up there on the tree. Every leaf is a miracle, and they abound.

I almost tossed it away. Why bother more thought? Why dwell on a leaf when I have things to do, places to go, worries to nurse, rows to hoe, surprises to curse? Why pause to see this leaf as a piece of art, making each branch a gallery, each tree Paris, a city of galleries – forest a masterwork?

Maybe because we can use little miracles, we need them now and then and need the reminder that they occur every day. Like them, big ones unfold, surely as this little leaf is God’s artful work.

Science tells us that a leaf is just a collection of cells, a blade that somehow knows to face the sun, held in place by a petiole, that central stalk running tip to stem, passing sugar made from water and sun through the branch, down the trunk, photosynthesis making that green we love.

But even that color, green, is a miracle of sorts. We see the lively, life-filled shade – between blue and yellow on the color wheel, opposite red – only because the leaf absorbs all the other colors, reflecting back to us just green.

That is how our eyes work, another miracle – the very narrow visible spectrum offering wavelengths – 495 to 570 nanometers for green – that speak brightly to the eager cells in our eyes, lifting our mood or lifting mine when I soak up the green. Eyes gravitate to light, especially to green.

In the end, as with subatomic particles within the leaf, and all the cosmology above the tree, way up there in the heavens, science attempts to explain why the leaf is as it is – but comes up short.

The leaf is a veiny green fractal, oddly pleasing to the human eye – part of a little interconnected universe that fits neatly into the larger universe of which we are a part. The leaf, as scientists know and seldom say – but poets deftly observed through the ages – is, honestly, a miracle.

Wrote Einstein, who surely saw fractals in the leaf as in the universe: “There are two ways to live. You can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” He added: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious…the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead – his eyes are closed.”

May ours not be closed, even to the leaf. Walt Whitman wrote in “Miracles,” we experience one as we “stand under trees in the woods.” In “Leaves of Grass,” another great evening’s read, when we experience nature, we should let go and “let it produce joy.”

Joyce Kilmer prods us. “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…A tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray; A tree that may in summer wear, a nest of robins in her hair; Upon whose bosom snow has lain, who intimately lives with rain.” She ends: “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” And, of course – a leaf.

In the hurly-burly and hustle-bustle, focused on our mundane worries, mind, and muscle, just keep one eye out for miracles. They are there, sure as solace follows grief, even in…a leaf.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Donna
Donna
8 months ago

Our Father in heaven is constantly trying to get our attention and when we actually stop and look and listen we are blessed. Thank you, Mr. Charles for reminding us.

Jeri
Jeri
8 months ago

Is there a way to contact AMAC and complain about these advertisers commenting on every story sometimes multiple times? If I want/need a job I will search on my own, don’t want to run up against these copy and paste advertisers.

John Bass
John Bass
8 months ago

Thank you RC, I believe this type of work is your best. Just like when you wrote about your dogs or some of the other similar stories. Please keep them coming because we could all use the distraction from our everyday wear and tear.
God save the USA.

Nancy
Nancy
8 months ago

Everything is a miracle in my life. Thank you for the good read. Such a relief from the other articles!

SusanW
SusanW
8 months ago

Robert, you are such a prolific writer! Thank you! You truly encapsulated the importance of miracles and the sense of wonder. It gives us hope and faith at a time when there is little to smile about. Someone once said “Out of difficulties grow miracles.” Such a true thought. We should all make time each new day to communicate with our inner/child-like self and take in all the natural beauty around us. Look up, down, and all around to see the true wonders of life. Nothing is more important! “Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.” Walt Whitman

Paula
Paula
8 months ago

Mr. Charles, Joyce Kilmer was of the male sex, not female.
Otherwise, a great article.

Rob citizenship a ty
Rob citizenship a ty
8 months ago

Really great writing Robert, sure appreciate the excerpt from ” Trees ” by Joyce Kilmer. First read that in 1950’s , always felt some sort of spiritual strength after reading and thinking about it. So much these days to cause distraction, at 73 , my gears just plain do not mesh with the mobile phone/ internet stuff — probably about half the time I use it — errors caused by various distractions . But that is O.K. because I have a sense of purpose and code of conduct that has values based on ideas found in ” Trees “. The electronic stuff is actually insignificant. ( If it were still practical would still use a typewriter, no spell check system to cause errors with a typewriter ! ) And a land line rotary phone would be O.K. too . Slide rule for at least some mathematics , still use one ) Dr. David Jeremiah wrote in a book entitled ” Angels , the strange and mysterious truth ” the following about nature and God — ” Nature is God’s mouthpiece, the design reflects the Designer . And since true science is the observation and understanding of nature, science’s full and proper purpose is to point is toward God. ” Important article you wrote Robert, Well Done !
.

Melinda
Melinda
8 months ago

Nature is wondrous indeed. I live in a rural area where one of my joys is seeing all the shades of green. Don’t get much fall color here, but what there is, is beautiful. Thank you for your introspection. We need a reminder to slow down and look (and see).

LauraC
LauraC
8 months ago

I have hope. Thank you, that is lovely.

Sherry
Sherry
8 months ago

Thanks for reminding me to look for the miracles from God’s hand around me every day!

Roger F McCarren
Roger F McCarren
8 months ago

Joyce Kilmer was a “he”, not a “she”. Referring to “A LEAF”.

USN Retired
USN Retired
8 months ago

This is the type of thing where “we” should focus our green energy efforts. Just imagine if the photosynthesis process of a leaf could be replicated in large enough scale to power our devices. Is it practical today? No, but maybe in our children’s lifetime.

Tony
Tony
8 months ago

Miracles abound! Thanks for reminding me.

Linda
Linda
8 months ago

To the author: Joyce Kilmer is not a she. Alfred Joyce Kilmer is his full name. But a lovely article up to that last bit. Love that poem.

Nilda R Perez
Nilda R Perez
8 months ago

That’s very beautifully enlightening!

Broccoli Free Zone
Broccoli Free Zone
8 months ago

I’ll never forget dissecting an earthworm in Biology class in HS. It had been in formaldehyde. My lab group sliced it open and found it’s heart (actually called aortic arches), and the alimentary canal runs the length, of course, wrapped in muscles. That worm gave it’s life so my table could learn about it. I was amazed at the precision of the design. God’s design for such an, almost, meaningless creature that is needed for plant life and all other life. It was magnificent to behold. The intentional complexities, was also a beautiful to behold. All that for a bug that digs dirt, eats dirt, can’t see and makes little worms. All God’s creation is magnificent, from plants to animals, to the most complex organ He made, the human brain.

Gloria
Gloria
8 months ago

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