The seasons we observe in Mother Nature are used as a paradigm for the seasons of our hearts and souls. As we reflect on the physical realities we are brought to the understanding, that behind all that we see is a far deeper reality. In all reality is perfectly hidden, and perfectly revealed, "The Real." What we see only touches the surface. To see beyond that surface we have to have the x-ray eye of faith. As we reflect on the vast treasures bestowed upon us by the combined reflections, of the artist, poet, writer, composer, and mystic something happens. We, as the result of these gifts, receive an invitation, or maybe a challenge to see, feel, experience, and celebrate the hidden spiritual realities which up until now had remained hidden. The autumn season had had great wonder for me, this year Autumn has come with a twist. Twists do add that something, like a twist of lemon in a cocktail? I have read about that!!!
Autumn has come with that twist which adds a certain something. I am now having to deal with the reality, the challenge, of seeing and living this Autumn through the lenses of my personal Winter season. ( In the golfing parlance it is called, "playing the back nine" I just hope that when I am on the 18th green I will get a hint when lining up that "final putt.") This is a whole new sacramental experience from which gifts will flow. Some will be welcomed, others will come as a challenge. From each and every new experience I have been lead to believe something new will bubble up from within. There will be a new understanding, a new little insight that was not there before. This/these insight(s) when accepted, and reverenced always results in change.
I must wait for that bubbling up, which always happens. This bubbling up is not on a timer, and so cannot be scheduled into the pattern of one's life. Now I am being challenged to accept the reality, my Autumn has passed. I, also have to own the fact there was no celebration in its passing. One can, and does allow one's self to be so caught up in "the doing of life" that the richness behind "the being of life" is never really seen, known or reverenced. What a void that leaves. A void that sooner or later has to be filled up. It will be filled up with a deeper sense of gentleness, kindness, empathy and compassion. These are mysteriously bestowed as the result of healthy grieving. On the other hand, the void can and will be filled up with all kinds of dysfunction when the healthy grieving process is not experienced. Then we are angry, cynical, vindictive, just to name a few. The grieving process is not easy. However, it is essential for a healthy, whole, holy life. There are no short cuts.
Being in the process, I came across the following, and it spoke to me of one aspect of Autumn: "A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours, the clouds fleeting like our illusions, the light diminishing like our intelligence, the sun growing colder like our affections, the rivers becoming frozen like our lives--all bear secret relations to our destinies." de Chateaubriand. Then here are some other reflections of the same reality: "Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive Autumns." George Eliot. "No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face." The mystical poet, John Donne. "Autumn...the year's loveliest smile." William Cullen Bryant. "I love Autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it." Lee Maynard. "Fall colors are funny. They're so bright, and intense and beautiful. It's like nature is trying to fill you up with color, to saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter turns everything muted and dreary." Siobhan Vivian, Same Difference.
As in all things in the spiritual life it is not about the either/or, it is about living in the tension of the both/and. Living the autumn reality was and is definitely exciting. In Autumn one is invited, challenged to see the beauty there is dying. Not a very popular reality to reflect on, but necessary. Here is a sacramental experience that happened some years ago. Yet, that event still presents ever new insights which color today's acting and living. I was hiking Missoula as the leaves were turning. There was this trail I was on and on both sides the leaves were wonder-full shades of red, rusts and the other colors of Autumn. Then it hit me. Here I am traveling through, what was either dead or dying and I was feeling so alive. Alive, and caught up in wonder at the contradiction right there before my eyes. That slowed me down. I was not ready to rush on, as I was prone to do back then. Not so anymore. ( When one walks WITH Mother Nature that happens.) That experience began an ongoing reflection on the terminal aspect that lies beneath all of its richness and vitality of life. I/we have to face the uncomfortable fact, all life is terminal. From the moment we are born we are dying. In that dying we are called to live life, and live it to the fullest. We are, also told that we cannot live life fully or freely until we have made our peace with death. In making our peace with death we are able to live life in a different way. Autumn reminds us, and invites us to celebrate that mysterious reality of living, dying, only to be born anew. Autumn has such great wisdom to impart. A wisdom that will impact our lives and hence the lives of others. These days, which are my days of winter. I am finding that memories of Autumns past, are triggered by this autumn season. Memories that bring warmth, soothing comfort, and a sense of well being. The same feeling one gets when one is close to a wonderful open fire all wrapped up in a warm blanket. Autumn memories sure warm and repel the cold, cruel, harshness of winter.