The Official Writing Challenge
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I would love to have this read by anyone who has suffered through a time of depression. It's a wonderful allegory.
I agree that this is a wonderful way to illustrate how life feels when hopelessness abounds. If we just keep looking, hope will reappear. Great imagery.

I struggled a little with the technical aspects, especially in the opening paragraph:

"It was unnaturally quiet. It always was. That was because everything was dead."

This group of phrases doesn't flow and in an opening paragraph you really want to catch your reader. Notice that 4 out of the 13 words are the word "was?" I think a rewrite on the article focusing on these types of things would make it much stronger.
interesting story here...funny, I didn't catch the allegory for depression! Perhaps because I have not really suffered from it. But after re-reading it from that point of view, I enjoyed the read even more.
I'm reminded of how Christ Himself came "to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."
(Isa 61:3)

Seems to me you captured His mission in this allegory of rising from the ashes of despair. That single leaf -- the planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor!

Beautiful! :)