Monday, September 23, 2019

Autumn's “Wordless Message”

The autumn (or September) equinox takes place today in the northern hemisphere, meaning that today is the first day of autumn in those parts of the world north of the equator.

To mark the occasion I share a beautiful and, to my mind and heart, richly meaningful reflection by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr. This reflection is excerpted from their 2005 book, The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons.

The mood of autumn is the ebb and flow of life. Autumn stands as an epiphany to the truth that all things are passing and even in the passing there is beauty. It holds out patterns of death and life. As the bright colors of fall fade away, and the leaves make their final descent, rich brown and charcoal colors take center stage. This is a decaying season, but the rotting ritual that surrounds us has another face. Compost and mulch are food for the soil. Here is life in the dying. Moments of death are full of life and our fear of the unknown sometimes hides that life. All this dying is a prophesy of life to come. Everything is dying to live.

While many people dread the approaching winter season, often these same people claim autumn as their favorite season. Perhaps this says something about the haunting call of this season to turn our eyes toward home. Autumn touches the core of the soul with the wordless message about the necessity of transformation and death. We are gently encouraged to look toward the west and embrace the bittersweet truth that all things are transitory. As we face the painful reality that nothing lasts forever, autumn teaches us humility. We learn to honor the dying. Everything is moving, flowing on into something new.

In this lovely season when the dance of surrender is obvious, we find large spaces left where something beautiful once lived. As one by one the leaves let go, a precious emptiness appears in the trees. The naked beauty of the branches can be seen, the birds' abandoned nests become visible. The new spaces of emptiness reveal mountain ridges. At night if you stand beneath a tree and gaze upward, stars now peer through the branches. This is an important autumn lesson – when certain things fall away, there are other things that can be seen more clearly.

– Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
From The Circle of Life: The Heart's Journey Through the Seasons
Sorin Books, 2005
pp. 166-167

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Time of Transformation
Autumnal (and Rather Pagan) Thoughts on the Making of “All Things New”
The Prayer Tree . . . Aflame
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2018)
Autumn . . . Within and Beyond (2016)
Photo of the Day – September 22, 2016
O Sacred Season of Autumn
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Somewhere In Between

Related Off-site Links:
Happy Equinox! It's the First Day of Autumn in Earth's Northern Hemisphere – Doris Elin Urrutia (, September 23, 2019).
How To Celebrate The Fall Equinox, Or “Witches’ Thanksgiving” – Erika W. Smith (Refinery 29 (September 23, 2019).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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