Autumn in my part of the world is a season of bounty and beauty. It’s also a season of steady decline—and, for some of us, a slow slide into melancholy. The days become shorter and colder, the trees shed their glory, and summer’s abundance starts to decay toward winter’s death.
I’m a professional melancholic, and for years my delight in the autumn color show quickly morphed into sadness as I watched the beauty die. Focused on the browning of summer’s green growth, I allowed the prospect of death to eclipse all that’s life-giving about fall and its sensuous delights.
Then I began to understand a simple fact: All the “falling” that’s going on out there is full of promise. Seeds are being planted and leaves are being composted as Earth prepares for yet another uprising of green. Continue reading “Autumn Sunset …”
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all …
— Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ is the Thing with Feathers” from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
The woods is shining this morning.
Red, gold and green, the leaves
lie on the ground, or fall,
or hang full of light in the air still.
Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes
the place it has been coming to forever.
It has not hastened here, or lagged.
See how surely it has sought itself,
its roots passing lordly through the earth.
See how without confusion it is
all that it is, and how flawless
its grace is. Running or walking, the way
is the same. Be still. Be still.
“He moves your bones, and the way is clear.”
— Wendell Berry from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (“Grace”)
A Small, Soft Feather
a small, soft feather,
from bluebird’s wing,
falls onto the receptive
lightly it lands
under a thick-branched oak;
quietly it waits,
unnoticed, unattended, Continue reading “A Small, Soft Feather (Autumn Meditation) …”
Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Great Gatsby
The Work of Autumn
In autumn we learn more about ourselves, perhaps, than in any other season. Having provided the harvest, Nature now makes everything bare. In this season Nature lets go of its abundant creation of the past year in a grand final display. Autumn marks the end of the growing season – a turning inward, a falling away of outer-directed energy. Leaves turn color and drop. The old leaves go back to the earth, enriching it to promote the coming of new leaves, a new harvest. Continue reading “Autumn Meditation: Letting Go …”
The way the trees empty themselves of leaves,
let drop their ponderous fruit,
the way the turtle abandons the sun-warmed log,
the way even the late-blooming aster
succumbs to the power of frost— Continue reading “What Else (Autumn Meditation) …”
I’ll let you in on a secret
about how one should pray the sunset prayer.
It’s a juicy bit of praying,
like strolling on grass,
nobody’s chasing you, nobody hurries you.
You walk toward your Creator
with gifts in pure, empty hands.
The words are golden
their meaning is transparent,
it’s as though you’re saying them
for the first time.
Continue reading “Praying the Sunset Prayer …”
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
— Rainer Maria Rilke from A Year with Rilke
Continue reading “Autumn Trees …”
Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.
― William Cullen Bryant (Indian Summer)
An Autumn Blessing
Blessed are you, autumn,
chalice of transformation,
you lift a cup of death to our lips
and we taste new life. Continue reading “Blessed Are You Autumn …”