Autumn is here – and it’s one of my most favourite seasons.

When the sun shines out of blue skies, and the trees and hedgerows are at their absolute best, the beauty of the autumn colours is breath-taking. The leaves seem to burst with a vibrancy and warmth that only appears at this time of year – rusty red, flaming orange, golden yellow – before they fall to the ground, where we kick through their crunch with glee.

It’s not always like this though!

When the skies are dull, leaden and filled with rain, the days can be long, grey and dreary. The temperatures drop, the nights are noticeably longer and, unless we get outside in the middle of the day, we may not see much daylight. On days like this, the autumn leaves that have gathered on the ground seem to create a sodden sort of mulch, as they start to break down, ready to fertilise the soil.

Autumn is when we get ready for winter.

Our native British trees yield an abundant harvest of apples, pears and plums in the autumn. Rose hips appear in plentiful supply. Berries and nuts are bountiful. Conkers gather on the ground. Hibernating animals stock up their supplies and prepare to hunker down for the winter. Birds eat what they need, so that they can fly to sunnier climes – or stay put, having had enough to survive once it starts to get colder.

Autumn is also when we learn to let go.

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve walked through the countryside near where I live, I’ve watched the autumn trees letting go of their leaves. Each leaf has died naturally, and fallen to the ground in due time, its job done. The trees have not fought it. They know that new leaves will appear next spring; that it’s all part of the cycle of the seasons.

All this has got me thinking.

I don’t always find it easy to let go – of people, possessions and things that feel familiar and comfortable.

Letting go can leave me feeling exposed, stripped bare like the naked branches of the autumn trees. Letting go can feel uncomfortable; it’s much easier to stick with what I know. Letting go can be painful, especially when I have no choice in the process; when it gets forced upon me by external circumstances.

But letting go can also be liberating – especially if it creates room for fresh growth.

When I let go of relationships that drain and deplete my emotional reserves, I can invest instead into life-giving people. When I let go of old habits that are holding me back, I can take up new practices that will lead me closer to the Lord. When I let go of belongings that are creating unnecessary clutter, I can free up space for beautiful things that will bring me joy. 

In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we read this: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” And in John 12:24, we read this: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  

What do these Bible verses tell us about God’s take on this?

If there is a time for everything, this means there is a time to let go and a time to take hold. And if there is a season for every activity, this means there is a season for letting go and a season for taking hold.

If we don’t let go, nothing will fall to the ground and die, and no new things will be produced. If the autumn trees don’t let go of their leaves, allowing them to fall to the ground and die, then there won’t be room on their branches for new green shoots in the spring.

Just as the trees let go of their old leaves in the autumn and take hold of their new leaves in the spring, we too need to do likewise. We need to learn to let go of the old when God nudges us, and to take hold of the new when the time is right.

This autumn, as I get ready for winter, I am learning afresh to let go.


What season are you in at the moment in your life? If it feels like autumn, how willing are you to to let things go – people, possessions, practices – to make way for fresh growth? How easy or difficult do you find it to let go, and why do you think this is?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below.

Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for November. (You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)

Photo: my own!



  1. I don’t always find it easy to know what season I’m in – sometimes I think you can go though a couple of seasons in one day! Having just moved house, and found boxes that have been stored away for months, I am finding treasures that I haven’t seen for so long. Old photographs, letters, memories of grandparents long-gone. It’s so hard to let go of them. I don’t want to see them fall to the ground and turn to mulch. And yet how much can I realistically keep hold of?! Can I keep them all in my heart so they don’t gather dust in our new house? My prayer at the moment is, “Lord, what do I need to let go of?”

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      I hear you Mary. Those sorts of things are precious, and full of memories, and I’d be holding on to them, especially if they bring you joy. But there may be other things, hidden in those boxes, that you’ve managed to live without over the months they’ve been in storage. So perhaps those are more appropriate to let go.

  2. I love this reflection. A new perspective on letting go, I love the thought of the trees letting go of their leaves so they can rest during the Winter, ready for new growth in the Spring. Thank you Joanna.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      I’m so pleased to read that this reflection has ministered to you, Janet. Thanks for letting me know.

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