I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post from the community. Read on for Angela Taylor's reflection on finding the light to share.
Today I am appreciating the cooler air and full change of autumn. Coolness in contrast to the heavy heat of late summer is allowing me to breathe a little deeper. These seasonal changes assist a movement within my soul. When I bring my awareness to what each season is speaking, my eye then turns inside to discern if my soul is mirroring the outside changes or in tension with them. The questions that follow clear away the dead refuse that was left over from a previous stage that I moved beyond, even if I had been living as if I were the same person. This autumn startles me awake to my new self.
This is the second month with a new family that I support through the Sanctuary movement, and I begin to realize they are touching my heart in a deeper way than those I have worked with in the past. Even with the language barrier, this wife and mom of three boys, and I have a unique connection. On the days I pick up the oldest from preschool, we stop in the middle to pick up my boys, and then start the trek across town to drop him at his new home. We visit and spend the evening confined in a church building with five very active boys that seem to have no end to their energy. The broken conversations bring humility into my desire for a second language that I am beginning again. Yet the boys’ playfulness and no need for verbal communication bring me teachings to see. This air and autumnal birthing help as I process and let go to creation my feelings of grief for this family.
As I open, I realize the work of moving my mom to a memory care facility hampered the change of seasons for my family on the equinox this year. It was easy to pass by in distraction as it is often hot and the leaves do not turn until mid October. Now today, I felt the tension strong enough and I know I want to switch our nature table. This is an outward expression of the shifting within me. I start by taking off the signs of our summer. The flowers that were picked but had dried, seashells from my husband’s walk on the Camino in Spain, geodes and rocks that my boys had gathered over the years, an empty wasp nest and dried sage from the garden. We had picked up leaves full of color on our last walk. These became the base beneath the new candle of autumn orange. I add the recent pine cone and acorn finds from what Mother Earth had already gifted us on the ground. As I began to settle into this activity, my body became more calm and accepting; accepting of another place of grief which leads to fears of having to say goodbye to another loved one, and accepting of the love I gave to feel this way. After being with acceptance, my gaze shifts to the emerging seasonal questions.
This last month I have pondered the post harvest questions. What is the chaff to be burned in the field? What no longer serves who I am today and might need a difficult pruning? Can I name the seed that was saved and will be buried in the warm earth in the coming months? I am reminded of my answers and those I could not answer. As the days grow shorter, darkness increases and sunlight does not provide all the light we need. Saint Martin carried a lantern and light in the dark months to those in need. In the next three weeks leading to Martinmas, I will sit with the question: What light can I bring to those around me?
In recent years, that was a hard question for me to answer. I was in the midst of grieving a mom who was traveling the stages of dementia and caring for and schooling my young children. My only answer was often…realness. This autumn finds me in a different place. My Mom is being taken care of outside the home and my children are in school. Though I experience grief in a new place of supporting families with deportation orders, my journey has given me the grace to hold it more lightly. My time and spirit are opening. This question of bringing light to my community may not be answered fully this year, but I know my ineffable soul answer is new.
I lay a knitted Star Wars figure on the nature table last in hopes I will get a giggle or two out of my boys when they notice the transformed table in their own time; then lit the candle and said a prayer of thanks to Creation and God as these few moments brought me to myself and allow a flow into the life my body and soul live today.
Angela Taylor lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and two boys. She teaches locally on Celtic spirituality, the Hebrew Scriptures and journeying with seasonal changes in nature. She also volunteers with the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition to work beside families who have claimed Sanctuary in a faith building.