“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”
– Joe L. Wheeler –
I was on retreat at the beautiful and cold Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, this past week. It is autumn in our ‘down under’ part of the world. Each season speaks to us, holding its own treasures and reflections – but I love Autumn the most. I can almost feel the Autumn Equinox arrive each year. There is a shift in the atmosphere as summer gives her last hurrah and is ushered off the stage. Dressed in Jacob’s coat of many colours, Autumn takes centre stage, bringing with her breathless beauty a sense of melancholy and the paradox of life and death.
Autumn is a most inviting, contemplative companion. Unlike any other season, it calls us to nature and to listen to her wisdom. Over the years, I have found that I am drawn to thoroughly clean my house in Spring, but my soul cleaning happens in Autumn. Personally, many things have fallen away for me over the last several years. It has been a time of surrender. As the Autumn leaves have fallen, my perspective has changed. It is amazing how we can begin to really see in times of letting go.
I would like to encourage all my readers to take time out for some ‘soul cleaning’, regardless of whether you are in Autumn or Spring (hello, to my friends in the Northern Hemisphere). There are many great writers, poets and artists who we can choose as ‘alongsiders’ as we sort through the cupboards of our lives.
Here is a piece from Joyce Rupp’s and Macrina Wiederkehr’s “The Circle of Life“. May it bring you joy, hope and wisdom.
“In this lovely season when the dance of surrender is obvious,
We find large spaces left where something beautiful once lived.
As one by one the leaves let go,
A precious emptiness appears in the trees.
The naked beauty of the branches can be seen,
The bird’s abandoned nests become visible.
These new spaces of emptiness reveal mountain ridges.
At night if you stand beneath a tree and gaze upward,
Stars now peer through the branches.
This is an important Autumn lesson – when certain things fall away,
Here are other things that can be seen more clearly.
This same truth is celebrated in our personal lives.
When we are able to let go of a relationship that is not healthy,
The heart is given more room to grow.
We are able to receive new people into our lives whose gifts we never noticed.
Perhaps it is not a person we have lost but our dreams of good health that would last forever.
Our health fails, our dream dies.
Another significant area of surrender comes with possessions.
Our possessions can become like little gods that eventually get in our way.
There are those who struggle to discover the blessing and wisdom of ageing process.
The surrender of youth can be the most difficult of all.
Autumn invites us to let go, to yield … yes, to die.
We are encouraged to let things move in our lives.
Let them flow on into some new life form just as the earth is modelling these changes to us.”
“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn,
about the wild lands, and the strange visions and mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien –