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Autumn’s Call

Today is the Autumn Equinox and we enter my favorite half of the year.  These days have been marked by a heaviness here at the Abbey though.  My mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s has been declining rapidly as of late.  And in the last couple of weeks our sweet old dog Tune has developed canine cognitive dysfunction, which essentially leads to increased confusion, anxiety, and distress, similar to Alzheimer’s in humans.  She is on medication now which is helping, but still the signs are there.  The anniversary of my own mother’s death is less than a month away.  As fall begins its brilliant journey I am being thrust into the messiness of life.

Autumn holds me to this path, it calls me to honor the full spectrum of human experience, to not push away the sorrow and grief, to not fill the waiting with distractions.  I rest into the unknown, the not-yet knowing when an end will come for my beautiful mother-in-law, or when we will be called upon to bring an end for Tune’s suffering. 

While the contemplative life cultivates peace, it also means being affected by the deep grief of living and loving.  It means allowing my heart to break again and again.  Being a monk in the world means I show up fully for whatever life brings me.  I make space to feel all of its contours.  I embrace the fullness of my very human life.  And in my capacity to do this for myself, I can be present to others in their suffering as well.

Autumn offers solace with her unbearable beauty.  But some days, the wind gusts through and the trees are stripped bare.  I weep at the ache I feel when I consider how everything I love in this world will one day die. The season calls me to let go of false assumptions, wrests my too-small images of God from me as I enter the Mystery of dying and rising.  Autumn demands that I release what I think is important to do and return to the only thing which matters that I remember – to love and to allow love to sculpt me, even as it breaks my heart.

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13 Responses

  1. My own loss and suffering are so in tune with yours. The anniversary of my beloved husband’s passing into heaven is drawing upon me and yesterday I had to give up his “best buddy” to go and join him. Brandy has been a part of my life for 15 years and was the tangible connection here on earth to Peter. It hurts so much because we love so much. Could it really be any other way?

  2. What a magnificent Autumn collage!!!! Reminds of the richness of Autumn despite the fact there is so much letting go. But that letting go is the nourishment for what is to come in the future growth – the compost of all that is good rich and beautiful. In a time of stark waitinmg it reminds me that there is growth out of emptiness. That richness of Autumn is the inner life of what looks dead and empty. Blessings

  3. Holding you in my heart and in my prayers, and sending blessings on their way to you across the ocean,

  4. My thoughts are with you. I just lost my 31 year old quarter horse (Harley) Sunday morning. I, too, feel my heart breaking.

  5. Your statement of our human reality of love and loss is beautiful. Yes, we are only fully human when we extend to our limit in love. We suffer the loss knowing that we will only regain balance by giving ourselves in love once again.