Leaving Prints

01 November 2023
Sr. Cheryl Rose

Leaving Prints 

I never noticed before how the leaves leave their mark when they fall.  All bunched up together on a tree we can easily miss their singular identity.  But this year I keep seeing the distinct leaf print of each leaf that left its mark on the cement canvas where it landed.  Like a photographic image of the unique pattern of the now-blown-away leaf that landed, there’s a lingering mark from the leaf, as though it’s saying: “I was here; I made a difference.”  (Even a slim stem leaves a print!) 

This year I’m noticing this interesting “photography”—this chemical reaction of light and leaf, much like the magic of cameras and film Even after the rains, the prints remain, more faint yet distinct as the days wear on.  And as I walk, I keep thinking about those people who have left their distinct print on my life. 

Every person leaves some trace as they pass through our days, even if part of a collective pattern.  As no two leaves are the same, the singular souls who flow through our lives leave their unique mark—some faintly and some indelibly—on the impressionable film roll of our life. If we flip through the pages of our life’s album, we notice the faces of those who have left their print on our life.  

Let’s do a virtual slide show.   See the faces of those who have left strong imprints of love—faithful, unearned, kind, tender love—on your heart?   Who were teachers for you, imprinting lessons that enlightened, inspired, or challenged, meeting you sometimes in classrooms you didn’t see coming, or wouldn’t have chosen?  Who have been your “teachers”?  Who were your heroes, your saints?  Who comes to mind as the 10 people who have left the greatest imprint on your life?  In this season of thanks-giving, mark their particular impact on your life, noting how they shaped you and the kind of fingerprint they left on your soul.  Why not let them know?  A note, an email, a call if they’re still alive—or a quiet prayer of gratitude if they are in the next life! 

There is of course the other side of this leaf-print process, which I’m sure you were thinking:  What kind of prints am I leaving?  What trace am I leaving of MY presence?  What “footprints” have I left on the paths I’ve traveled; on the lives of the people I have encountered? How do I want to touch lives…what prints do I want to leave? 

Every leaf leaves a mark.  Today let’s gratefully remember all those who have left their signature prints on our life.  And open our eyes and consecrate our intention to leave a grace-full footprint wherever we walk.