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The Wisdom of Autumn (latest column at Patheos)

Stop by to read my latest Seasons of the Soul column at Patheos on the gifts and wisdom of autumn. If you like this reflection, I would be grateful if you would click the “like” button at the top of the page and share it with your friends via Facebook or Twitter:

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

— “Autumn” by Rainer Maria Rilke (translation by Robert Bly)

I always find myself extraordinarily energized by the arrival of fall: the crispness of the air, the slowly growing darkness, the simmering of soup on the stove, and the pulling on of wool sweaters.

I love to witness the great turning of the leaves toward radiance and then release. I have much to learn from trees about living brightly and then letting go at the right moment. I imagine what it must be like for the leaf to break free from the branch and flutter gently down to the earth, or sometimes forced off by gusts of wind. In those moments of falling does the leaf know it will be soon be received on the soft earth and be turned into compost and nourishment? And do I remember in my own moments of falling the trajectory of things?

I think of autumn and winter as the seasons of the monk, with their invitations to release and move into stillness. Our modern culture embraces the energies of spring and summer with their emphasis on perpetual blossoming and fruitfulness. But the entire cycle of creation offers us a wise reminder of what is necessary for the fullness of life. Releasing and resting are integral to the spring being able to arrive again.

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