One day in the woods, the most beautiful red leaf came lightly falling through the forest canopy. As it drifted down, it spied a green, leafy bush below.
“That would be a fantastic place to land!” thought the red leaf, and it fluttered down toward the bush, where it gently landed.
Safely in the bush, the red leaf began meeting its new neighbors, the green leaves. They were very kind, and soon the red leaf had forgotten that it had begun its life in a tree. It felt like it fit in perfectly. So perfectly that it began volunteering to work around the bush, work that it saw the green leaves doing.
And how joyful was that work! It was so nice being involved. The green leaves loved the red leaf. The red leaves loved the green leaf. The green leaves invited the red leaf to stay. “Become one of us,” they begged. “You can be grafted in!”
But while the red leaf loved the green bush, the red leaf also liked its independence. The red leaf liked the idea that it could come and go whenever it pleased, that it could once again take to the freedom of the sky. In the meantime, the red leaf faithfully worked in the green bush.
As the days went on, something happened. The red leaf wasn’t quite sure when it started, but one day it noticed that it wasn’t really enjoying doing the work that the green leaves all did. And its luxurious red color, which the green leaves had all noticed, was turning a bit brown. And though the red leaf had taken pride in how flexible it was, now it noticed that at certain times, its points felt, well, rather brittle.
So things continued – for the green leaves, everything was as usual. But for the red leaf, every day was harder and harder to face. Nobody else seemed to feel it, but the red leaf was getting tired of life in the green bush.
And then one day, the red leaf decided to leave. Just as suddenly as it had arrived on the green bush, and in precisely the same manner, it left, taking once again to the air. But this time, there was no other bush to land in. The red leaf landed on the ground, where it was promptly raked up, piled into a giant pile, and unceremoniously burned.
What had gone wrong?
Though the red leaf lived in the green bush, the red leaf never accepted its place there. The red leaf had the opportunity to be grafted in, but it thought of its “freedom” and declined. Therefore, without any connection to the bush and to its root, the red leaf was slowly dying. By the time it fell from the bush, it was already dead, and the only thing left to do was for someone to rake it up and burn it.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown in the fire and burned.” - Jesus; from John 15:5-6