Nov. 17, 2021
I have been extremely fortunate this fall to see so much colorful foliage. Here in the southern states, the leaves typically dry up, turn brown, and tumble away, but this year, perhaps due to all the summer rain, they transformed themselves into muted reds and vibrant yellows. In New Hampshire, the autumn foliage stunned me at every turn, and even outside of Chicago, on what used to be prairie land, the leaves and grasses lit up in color. The problem with all this beauty is that I don’t want it to end. I don’t want the trees to drop those rich, warm hues of delight, and yet they will.
Autumn is the most subtle of seasons. With all its beauty, it knows what is next—the letting go. It is also the season that most stirs my soul and touches my heart. When I had young children, autumn marked the start of school, an exciting time of growth, and a recognition of another year gone by, preparing me, like an autumn tree, for that not-so-distant letting go. Now that I am older, autumn reminds me where my days will eventually take me, to a final letting go, and letting go of those I love. Autumn demonstrates for us the truth that life will be different in the future. The wheels do turn. But if wheels did not turn, we’d be stuck.
Autumn also offers us an opportunity to assess our lives and to discern in the early shadows of the afternoon what we might be holding too tightly, so tightly that we are keeping ourselves from opening a space for something else. It could be anything—an emotion, a grudge, a fear, a lost love or opportunity. It could be a material possession to which we are too attached or perhaps a lost dream begging to be let go in order to let a new dream breathe. Autumn invites us to trust the open palm that understands something has to be released in order for future birth to take place. Creatively speaking, autumn invites us to consider letting go of an art form that is comfortable and familiar in order to embrace and create something new.
I wonder how this season of fall presents itself to you, in your life, in your creative work, in your daily work, and in your spiritual journeys. What memories surface? What experiences? What feelings? While pondering, don’t forget to to relish a final glimpse of the colors and listen to their wisdom before they tuck themselves in until the next turn of the wheel. Walking with you~ Rosemary
Long narrow roots of the maple stretch
like old slender fingers grasping the leaf-
littered ground, fingers fumbling over saffron
scarlet brown offerings of time
evidence of sacred cycles.
Branches themselves evolve into bare black
arms that know when to release
to let go, to set free, a black made vivid
by its bareness.
It is the bittersweet time of year—
everyone knows this—
bidding goodbye to all that came before
within another turning of the wheel–
but no not a dead season.
The multi-hued tapestry spread on the ground
becomes food for moss and mushrooms.
Empty branches recognize the slow sap
circling in anticipation of the next
creation. And though we do not
see them as well in summer through the shady
canopies, autumn stars still light
upon bare black limbs
and ancient slender fingers.
© Rosemary McMahan