Season of Paradox

Autumn is my favorite season with winter a close second, so we are entering the time of year that makes my heart sing.  The season ahead is a season of transition.  While summer and winter have more of a sense of sameness to them, spring and fall remind us that the world is constantly in flux and everything changes.

For me, the heart of autumn's gifts are its twin energies of relinquishing and harvesting.  It is a season of paradox that invites us to consider what we are called to release and surrender, and at the same time it invites us to gather in the harvest, to name and celebrate the fruits of the seeds we planted months ago. In holding these two in tension we are reminded that in our letting go we also find abundance.

Perhaps the greatest gift of this time of year for me is its witness to the beauty found in death.  My mother died five years ago on October 19th, a terrible loss for me.  And yet I remember so well in those days following her movement into the Great Night, I would go on my morning walks to pray as is my practice.  Each day I would witness the earth in her own movement toward death and I was dazzled by its beauty.  Crimson, umber, saffron, orange, the colors that seem to sing of the beauty found in that transition between worlds.  Ever since that autumn full of grief, each new autumn invites me to remind myself of this wisdom.

Another spiritual practice for me is to create an altar space that changes from season to season to remind me of nature's invitations to my soul.  This is an ongoing process of paying attention as I walk outdoors to what calls to me.  The other day I discovered this small branch on the ground.  I picked it up and discovered to my delight that it rattles when I shake it.  I continued on my walk shaking a rhythm that let me dwell in a liminal space for a time. More found objects will accompany it in the coming days– that first perfect, brilliant leaf that tumbles, a stone that feels solid and cool and grounding, and others I have yet to discover.

What are the ways you welcome in the season of autumn?  Do you have any favorite rituals, practices, or readings?  I'd love to hear about them.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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