The restless winds of autumn heaped a pile of brown and yellow leaves behind our wicker patio furniture a couple of weeks ago. “Better take care of that,” my wife said, tossing her head toward the two-foot heap that Saturday morning. I grunted but made no commitment.

This Saturday morning was bright, balmy, and windy as well. As Judy walked past the dining room window, she exclaimed, “You took care of the leaves!”

The patio had been swept clean, which drew another noncommittal grunt from me. (A man’s most prudent response to many a wifely news dispatch.)

“…Or did you?” she asked.

“Pardon?”

“Did you rake the leaves…or did you let the wind take care of it?”

Credit where credit is due. “The wind took care of them all–and did so nicely, wouldn’t you say?”

Years ago, we lived on a rural hilltop near Goshen, Indiana, with our house facing west. A neighbor across the road had a handsome stand of oak trees that dropped their leaves a little at a time, month after month, from August through the following April. The prevailing wind dutifully piled them in our front yard, where I dutifully raked them up many times a season.

One year, I slipped on some wet leaves and fell on the edge of our concrete driveway, banging my left knee badly. That put an end to my Saturday leaf-raking ritual for the rest of the season. It also taught me the lesson of autumn’s wind.

When life gets blown awry, I instinctively spring into action to set things right. But sometimes–perhaps more often than I’ve realized–the capricious forces that throw my life into disarray will clear the debris if I wait long enough.