The early mornings are now cool again. Autumn is in the air. This morning the clouds are blanketing the sky and there’s a mysterious calm inviting reflection. Even the birds are quiet as the distant sun begins to penetrate the darkness. I open the window to feel the cool refreshing air of this new season of transition. September, when in the Northern Hemisphere Mother Nature transforms the landscape with cool air and abundant harvests of change that remind us of the cyclical and flowing nature of our lives.
This is the season where we pass from the verdancy of what has been to reflect on the withering and transformation of all things. The youngsters go back to school while the middlers gear up for more accomplishments and the oldsters wonder at the life that continues to flow in endless movements through their many seasons of soul. It’s a time for both action and contemplation; a time when we reflect on the fire and ice of winter, the seeding and sprouting of spring and the growth and renewal of summer.
Autumn is the fourth quarter of an endless cycle of seasons that continuously return for our veneration and insight. It’s always an opportunity to awaken to the sacred harmony that’s orchestrated and animated in the seasons of Nature’s ongoing drama of gestation, birth, life, death and new life. It’s a time for thanksgiving and celebration for the harvest, for the leaves that change color, kiss the ground and create humus for new growth. It’s an event that calls us to recognize the seasons of soul that take place daily and eternally throughout our lives. Autumn carries the gold of all the other seasons.
As a boy growing up in the mid-West, I remember autumn as a season of wonder and fun. It was a time of changing temperatures, changing colors, changing clothes, raking leaves into piles, jumping into them, frolicking with them, placing them in the garden and burning them on the dirt driveways. I remember the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures of autumn and the many preparations necessary for the coming winter. What are your remembrances? What does autumn touch in your heart, your soul?
Recently I woke up in a dream standing in front of a lone tree on top of a hill. Beneath the tree were its yellow, red and orange leaves that turned nothingness into meaning, silence into understanding. Even though the tree had lost all its leave it had no worries. It stood calm in its nakedness and silently asked me if I knew the lesson that was being shown to me in this moment. My answer was to sit and lean against this century old tree. Here I watched the leaves stir and blow away as the dream ended.
As I reflected on these images, a still small voice within said: “There’s purpose in your season of waiting.” That was it. . . What I needed to see and hear was so clear. There is purpose in all our seasons of waiting and it’s up to us to stand strong, tall, calm, vulnerable and silent in them. As I continue to reflect on this insightful message, there’s the sense that we can all get stuck in past or future seasons, to not recognize it and fail to embrace the one we’re in. In so doing, we miss the harvest of the present moment.
For me, this is the essence of Autumn, the soul of this season, the soul of Life that ends and begins every moment of every day. It highlights the winds of change that blow when and where they will to give the appearance of death when nature, in harmony with all of creation, is simply preparing for another new season. Here we can stop, look and listen to the stillness; to the fire, earth, water and air that are transformative, generative and ever glorious in their design. Here we can give cheers for all that appears.
In Autumn, with her surrendering nature, the wholeness and impermanence of life is most visible. We’re asked to awaken to the meaning of each change that comes to live with us. To step into an integral awareness of the ever flowing mystery of Life, the endings and beginnings that touch the great rhythms of loss and gain. In calmness and reverence there is thanksgiving as we realize that every leaf belongs, every season has its songs and every being longs for another chance to dance with the wind. . . .
- Over the next months of Autumn, spend some significant meditative time outdoors in Nature. Feel this season of soul in the marrow of your bones, in every turning and falling leaf, in the songs of the season. Be aware of the changes from the inside out.
- Find ways during this season to connect positively with all phenomena connected with fading, decaying and withering. Notice the internal contrast with that of budding, growing and flourishing. Fix your attention intently and consciously on these polarities and look for the reconciliation and integration of them: Smile at the wonder of it all.
- In this Autumn season, allow the inner and outer environments to disclose themselves to you. With a quiet introspection and artistic feeling, notice the possible openings and development of new spiritual faculties beyond your rational thought. Hmm. . . Ahhh. . .