Spinning Jenny

I actually felt bad as I accelerated away from the stop sign.  It was only a momentary thing.

I had noticed a number of the distinctive seed pods from the maple tree on the windshield of my truck as I left home, but didn’t take the time to brush them off.  The cause of my short-lived remorse was simply the thought of removing the seeds so far from their parent tree, a gorgeous scarlet maple that stands in my backyard, not twenty feet from where I write tonight.

It was a foolish thing, but I can’t help it.  I seem to have foolish tendencies sometimes.  It may run in my family.

Then again, it may run in the entire human race.

I smiled as I shoved down on the accelerator, imagining how it appeared from behind the truck.  The helicoptering seed pods were caught by the wind and brushed up and over the cab of the truck, to spin in the blustery gale.

I planted maple trees all the way to my destination.

spinningjennyI have been fascinated with the fantastic little helicopters all of my adult life.

To me, the magic of Spring is encapsulated in those wonderful winged vehicles.  Oh yes—they are indeed vehicles of mass transportation, moving hundreds of thousands of seeds from the parent tree to a resting place on the ground.

Some of them fall immediately under the tree, where they will languish, perhaps springing up temporarily, but perishing for lack of sunlight and virgin earth in which to sink their roots.

Others will be shanghaied, as were those I planted during my morning outing in the truck, and will be carried to places far away. They’ll never be reunited with their sires, but they perhaps, will grow to prodigious heights themselves and populate a different corner of their world.

The great majority of them will spin and blow from the limbs of the stately tree to nearby destinations, sailing as far as the limitations of their physical design will allow.  If the circumstances are right, a single maple sapling will arise from the spot in which each of them alights.


Imagine, if you will, the feeling of hanging from the parent tree in Spring.  By the thousands, the little pods develop over the course of a few weeks as the days lengthen and become warmer.  The seasonal rains do their part, as well.

What a sensation!  Not a thing in the world to be feared, with food whenever it’s needed.  Clinging tightly to the limb, there is protection from the elements close to the warmth and strength of the great structure with its roots going down deep into the soil below.

The wind blows and the pod simply swings, secure in its place.  It spins a bit and wonders about the odd sensation, but is calmed quickly with the reassurance of security and safety.

But today—today—the wind blew thousands of the little helicopters off of the tree.  Imagine that feeling!

I can’t help but think the first reaction would be one of pure panic.  No more safety.  No more comfortable assurance of things going on as they always have.  Questions rush to mind.

Where will I stop?

What if I get sick on the way to where I’m going?

What will I find there?

How will I get on?

Who will care for me?

Somehow, I envision the sensations changing as the spinning continues.

This isn’t so bad!

I could do this for awhile.

Why was I so afraid?

Did I call these little life conveyances an example of the magic of Spring?  I think magic may be too fanciful a word, although for some, the reality may stretch the boundaries of faith even more than the thought of magic.

The master design by the Creator of everything is far beyond the ken of our puny intellect.  From the largest of intelligent beings to the smallest of plants, He has planned the perpetuation of each species in ways we could never have imagined possible.

I gazed in wonder at the maple tree earlier this evening, my inferior brain attempting to take in the scope of all the samaras hanging under the tender leaf shoots which have only this week begun to appear.

Samara is the scientific term for the spectacular seed conveyances which are now spinning into the air everywhere.  I prefer the name the children in Northern England use for the mysterious devices.

Spinning Jenny, they call the helicopter-like seedpod, as they toss it again and again into the air.  

Spinning Jennies.  I may always call them that, until the day I turn loose from the tree I hang from myself.

Ah.  At last we come to it.

Our Creator did not forget humans in His design for perpetuating the species.  And no, as incredible as is the process of procreation in mankind, I’m not referring to how we keep the species going physically.

I’m considering a more spiritual thought as I make the comparison.  And, I assume that most who read these words are followers of Christ—believers—as I am.

He called us to leave the place of comfort.  He called us to minister to all the world.  He called us to die daily—to take up our cross and follow Him. (Luke 9:23)

And, just as quickly as that idea blows the winds of change over us, we feel ourselves spinning and falling, borne away from comfort, and ease, and all that is familiar.

I smiled earlier at the thought of the cute Spinning Jennies flying through the air.

I’m not smiling anymore.

They are falling to their death.  To their death.

It is a sobering thought.

And the Teacher said, “Except a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die, it remains alone.”

It’s a steep price to pay for a fantastic, exciting, scary journey.

But, think of it my friends!  The ultimate payoff is life itself.

Life itself.

For ourselves and for those we bring with us.

The trees know.

Is it time to let go yet?

A price will be paid.

It will.

Oh. But, what a ride!

Time to let go.




Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
(John 12:24 ~ NASB)



Oh!  The places you’ll go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers!
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because sometimes, you won’t.
(from Oh The Places You’ll Go ~ Theodor Seuss Geisel ~ American children’s author ~ 1904-1991)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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