Dying to live a more full and healthy life


          The autumn season brings with it new opportunities for what I call yard exercise. In the summer yard exercise involves mowing the yard, or planting vegetables or weeding. Spring yard exercise may mean cleaning gutters or planting flowers. Autumn brings the chance to rake leaves.
          As the leaves change color they undergo a process of dying and then falling to earth, waiting like a polka-dot carpet to be raked up. Some folks bag their leaves and the local trash hauler will dispose of them. Others form a miniature Kilimanjaro of leaves to be jumped into and tossed. Still others will rake up the leaves and run over them with a mulching mower and create a nice mulch for their planting beds or walking paths.
          New England and North Georgia and North Carolina play host to “leaf peepers” by the carload, who travel to admire the yellows, oranges, and reds of autumn spread across the hillsides. Such beauty comes from something that is in the process of dying.
          As the chlorophyll degrades, the other pigments in the leaf come out. Usually the chlorophyll dominates and thus all we see is the color green. The true colors have a chance to be seen only when the dominate chlorophyll decreases. Eventually the leaf dies and releases from the tree, only to be replenished by a new leaf in the coming spring. It struck me that this is an analogy for our health and pursuit of fitness.
          Who we really are can be hidden behind fatigue and worry caused by our health, and health concerns. Our true, beautiful colors get dominated by our weight, our sedentary lifestyle, or stubbornness to alter our eating habits. We refuse to change.
          All of that must decrease in order for beautiful and meaningful change to occur. It’s the change that inspires others. By dying to self, we actually start truly living. Do we want our health to decrease our life or add to our life? Are we ready to be dying to live?
Please email me at the address below with a topic you’d like to see in Staying Fit and I’ll do my best to get it in this column. Let’s keep moving together! 
Next month: Discover whether I survived the half marathon, or not!
Dr. John A. Page is an associate pastor at Athens First UMC. Go to www.amazon.com for his book, “The Almighty in the Ordinary.” Email John at john.a.page@ngumc.net