With the exception of a few stragglers, the trees near my house are bare. Most of their leaves have been removed by the city. Even the oak tree in the backyard, which has been known to still have leaves well into January, has shed its leaves. If only one oak tree in front of neighbor’s house would do the same, I would be all set for this year’s leaf gathering.

Over the years I have employed a number of methods to collect leaves: rake them, blow them, pick them up with the lawnmower using a grass catcher, pick them up by hand, or use a suction device. What has made their gathering this year more complicated is that the lawn was seeded this fall. This meant that I had to severely limit the use of suction.

On those days when I plan to use the technique of blowing leaves, the first thing I do is check the direction of the wind, how hard it is blowing, and if it is gusting. Over the years I have learned the hard way, it is always better to blow leaves with the wind rather than against it. If you blow them against the wind you may well discover that the leaves you are blowing come right back in your face. Here I think we have a general principle of life: it is better to go with the flow than against it.

On the fourth day of creation, God created the sun and the moon. “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:14, 15a) God created a world that has laws and regulations for people to discover so that they might successfully make their way during their days under the sun. Our lives go better if we follow these laws and regulations rather than go against them.

God not only created the heavens and the earth, he provided instructions for how people should order their lives during their days under the sun. Perhaps, the most famous of these instructions are the Ten Commandments and all the other commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Book of Proverbs in its present form is a manual for young men and women for their bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah on how to be successful in life. Jesus during his earthly ministry had much to say about how people should live their lives.

Not only did God give general instructions for his creation, almost any item we might buy these days, no matter how trivial, comes with instructions. I would guess that less than 20% of those purchasing the products ever read the instructions. Most people assume they already know how to use them from previous experience. Unfortunately, sometimes a new product has a new twist. In blowing leaves there will be leaves that have become firmly grounded in the grass. Blowing them with the wind only causes them to become more entrenched. If you want to get them on their way, you have to go at them from a different direction. This will release them and they are free to move. Sometimes new products have new and different instructions.

We read in the introductory verses to the Book of Proverbs: “For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, an equity; to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young, let the wise hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill.” (Prov. 1:1-5) There is much to learn about our world and how we should live in it. What is to be learned has a great deal to say about philosophy, science, and ethics. One of the lessons that nature has to teach us is that it is almost always better to work with the wind than against it. And what is true for the wind is true for many areas of our lives.

The Rev. Dave Hogsett is a retired United Methodist pastor. He can be e-mailed at davidh15503@embarqmail.com.

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