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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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9 Responses

  1. i can definitely sense your heart singing as the fall nip enters the air. i am so grateful to have friends like you and tess who have helped to give me a new appreciation of this season that brings to close my personal favorite–summer :-) sing on, dear one! i’m listening.

  2. Coming a little late to this post, I find it reflects back to me exactly my own feelings about autumn. Even to the fact that my father died in early October – much longer ago than your mother, but it seems such a graceful time of year to remember him especially.
    I was at Turvey Abbey yesterday and as I left I gathered glossy conkers for part of my autumnal decorations.

  3. Christine – thanks for the invitation: the wee altar in this ‘room of my own’ has a new landscape today and I am already looking forward to the company it will keep with me as the days continues to unfold.

  4. Thanks Pam, such beautiful words about the release and harvest in loving children. I love to hear about other artists if you think of the name.

    Thank you Suz, I think as with everything, the more I practice my art, the deeper it becomes. It is lovely to see it through the eyes of others. Do you mean the statue posted in the other day about seeking silence? If so, she was just a statue I discovered in the cemetery in Vienna.

    Bette, I had a similar image come to mind, that dwelling space within me for life and holiness.

    Blessings to you all, beautiful women!

  5. beautiful photos and choice of poem by Mary Oliver. from a line in this poem, i like to think of my body as a mossy, warm cave…inviting life to snuggle and dwell inside me.

    i’d like to also thank Kigen from Eden’s Innuendo for the info. and link about the original nature of leaves.

  6. Eden…what an incredible bit of knowledge. Know this, everything is suddenly different. Thank you.

    Pam said it well, Christine. Your photography has reached a new level. You are finding the life within life. I am beyond words much of the time but do know I am reading and loving your blog these autumn days. I have looked back at the angel again and again. Who is she?

    And Mary Oliver. Bless her. She continually brings me to amazed tears with her poetic and novel reflection.

    What a rich post.

  7. Christine,

    This was very meaningful to me, partly just because yesterday, I “let go” of my second son, by taking him to college. It is also a time of harvesting of all that has gone into raising that child. It is a good reminder that letting go is not just emptiness, but also abundance. I have copied your paragraph that starts with “For me…” to keep these reminders in front of me.

    Your photographs lately have been absolutely stunning. They remind me of a certain photographer, but her name has slipped my mind. When I remember, I will send it to you because I know you would appreciate her work.

    Thanks for your reflection and the poem,

  8. Hi Christine. How precious this time approaching the autumn Equinox! Your meditation today is exquisite and wonderful. Thank you so much!

    For your question. There is something very interesting that most people don’t realize about the changing colors in autumn. The new vibrant hues are the “original nature” so to speak of the leaf. The green leaf in spring is actually a masking of that original color by the influx of chlorophyll. When the chlorophyll is no longer secreted in autumn we see the true colors of the leaf. Remembering this is a lovely way to celebrate the beginning of the season!

    (more on autumn’s changing colors at Wisegeek ~