That’s the word for today. (Yeah, it’s another word that my husband with the master’s degree brought to my attention.) It came to his mind as we were traveling the circuitous roads of North Georgia last week.
Deciduous, which means “falling off at maturity”, is mostly used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, but also to the shedding of petals on flowers or fruit when ripe. It basically means “the dropping of a part that is no longer needed” and the process expands to the animal kingdom. Deer antlers, baby teeth, and a snake’s skin are deciduous. And so are some trees. That’s where we get the beautiful fall colors that we love so much.
This could bring to mind the idea of seasons. Seasons in nature, seasons in life. Sometimes our lives are times of harvest, or times of dormancy, of shedding the old for re-growth, or whatever. The proverbial “Circle of Life”. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us of this.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
To us in the Baby Boomer generation we probably learned this verse of scripture for the first time in 1965 when The Byrds recorded a song that used this as its lyric almost verbatim from the King James Version. The song was called “Turn, Turn, Turn” and written by Pete Seeger. It was a lovely thought.
But think of the deciduous things I mentioned before and then the basic meaning of the world “the dropping of a part that is no longer needed”. That brings to mind another theme. Some things we leave behind might grow back in time like deer antlers or leaves. I guess this is an assumption of the definition of the word.
I’ve got things in my life – attitudes, habits, memories – that need to be deciduous. I need to deem them “no longer needed” and pray they never grow back. But if they ever do, I pray they will last for only a short season.