Farewell to Fall
The last new moon of Autumn is upon us.
A sharp chill penetrates into my core as I slink out of bed, grudgingly, knowing that the only way to stay warm outside of the nest I created for the night is to move, move, move. Between silent groans cursing the sub-freezing temperatures that blanketed me all night, little praises squeak their way into my mental dialogue, welcoming the harsh reminder that I am alive, that discomfort makes cozy moments all the more delightful, and that the little things, like a warm hug from someone whose body is better at temperature regulation than my own, is worth celebrating.
Contrast amplifies everything that is pleasurable.
Outside, the sunlight is deceivingly bright, although it has taken on winter's pale white hue that reminds me that the last of summer’s lingering warmth left with last month’s falling leaves. There are but a few crispy brown ones left, hanging by a thread, that still manage to decorate the happily nude aspens and oaks that surround me. I wonder what compels them to linger.
I wonder about autumn, and its lingering gifts. Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and first official day of winter, is on the 21st. One week from today, one week left of deepening darkness as night overpowers day. One week left of shedding our own leaves, shedding back the action and activities that clutter and overwhelm the holiday season. Of turning inward as the external world slows to a low hum. Of joining the trees by stripping down naked, exposed and bare to the deeper questions that autumn brings to the surface for ourselves and our culture.
The big questions that are so potent in times where we are exposing systematic oppression and racism, navigating the pandemic and the resulting family separations and a climbing death toll.
The last of the lush growth from sumer has begun to decay. The life cycle that is reflected in the wheel of the year is approaching the great pause and stillness of winter. And I am beckoned toward deeper relationship with death, and its role in life. Death, not necessarily in the limiting definition of the word, but in the metaphorical application to anything that is ripe for letting go of. Relationships, habits, mindsets, beliefs.
Our culture is so death-phobic that we have, in many ways, become life-phobic.
There is a beautiful paradox in holding them both—life and death—because in the aversion to the totality of aliveness which includes death, numbness overwhelmes the essence of vitality. We cannot have one without the other—denying either is to become blind to the richness of life's experience.
And so autumn has my heart, because it is a being who has mastered paradox. It can hold, in each of its hands, gratitude and severance; praise and grief; celebration and death. It carries the complex beauty that reminds me of the importance of marking shifts in the seasons and in nature with celebration. Celebrating the end of a season and all that it has brought, from hardships to lessons to joy. Reflecting on it all, holding on to the golden nuggets of wisdom, and letting the rest fall away, intentionally ushering in the next cycle.
This is my farewell to fall, a love letter to paradox and a season that so beautifully evokes both sorrow and celebration, warm fires and bitter cold. Until next year, dear friend.
Love Letters to Autumn
Walk on the land with curiosity about how nature celebrates life and death. You may also wonder how YOU celebrate life and death and everything in between.
Engage as deeply as your imagination will allow with the elements of death and decay in the landscape. notice your reactions.
Finally, you may feel called to engage in your own farewell to fall. Reflect on your experiences this past season and show gratitude in a simple gesture. Write a love letter, perhaps, to the elements of autumn that most spoke to you this year.
*If you are new to Wayfaring, begin by reading this blog post for detailed instructions before taking off on your journey!
JOURNAL PROMPTS TO PONDER
Definitely record, draw or write about your wayfaring experience. Record as many details as possible, because the themes, patterns, symbols and interactions that you experienced while relating with the land may have meaning that has yet to unfold in your own understanding... it is always a worthwhile endeavor to look back at your journal after time has passed to see what has changed!