Reflections on the Autumnal Equinox

As darkness descends earlier and earlier each day, I find myself reluctant to embrace shorter days and long nights. The chill in the air has me reaching for sweaters and snuggles. I want to slow down even as the work-pace quickens in the compressed schedule of pre-holiday season. Getting back to school and down to business rules the day.  

Jane Austen called autumn “that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness.” It is the season of crimson, saffron, pumpkin, and gold…a season to savor hard-won harvests, colorful feasts, and warm nests amidst darkness and decay. 

Perhaps there is something about the abundance of darkness and decay that heightens our appreciation for life and our awareness that life goes on not only despite, but also because of death. The small deaths of autumn are bearable reminders of the seemingly intolerable grief that each life must inevitably bear. 

Lessons of impermanence take on multi-colored hues, a daily reminder to strip down to essentials and let go. The leaves fall. The sky weeps. Cleansing rain falls, driving us inward to huddle around the genuine warmth of heart and hearth.

Just as fall leaves become rich compost for spring’s new growth, life is enriched and transformed by loss. As much as we often mourn the absence of light and warmth, deep within the cool, dark ground is the soil of irrepressibly fertile life. In the fall, our roots beckon us deep beneath the surface to the source of eternal spring to rest in peace, and if we're fortunate, awaken in the spring.

Now is the time to pay attention to the inner depths of our experience beneath the surface, restoring the balance between outer and inner, action and reflection, darkness and light.

And it is time to pause, give thanks, and celebrate the harvest. What are you harvesting this Fall? What have you cultivated and brought to fruition? What aspects of your life can you let go? What seeds are you sowing now that may bear fruit in the future?