Stillness on the First Morning of Autumn
Autumn in my memory is filled with sacred stillness.
Now I live in a place where autumn is more of a concept. The temperature may not get colder, even though the hours of daylight grow shorter. Most of the trees remain green.
The transition from summer to autumn to winter is measured in tiny increments.
Our seasons have more to do with featured flavors than with changes in the weather. We move from pomegranate to pumpkin spice to peppermint.
The autumn stillness I remember caused time to slow down and stand still. Each walk in the woods had its own adventures.
Autumn was a time of raking and burning leaves. Harvesting the results of summer’s hard work gave us food saved for the winter. Shocks of corn stalks, bales of hay, and pumpkins were more than decorations.
Autumn would give us the first days accurately described as cold, possibly the first snow.
Where I live now the weather never really gets that cold.
The chill and darkness of autumn would draw us into its rhythm. We took our time making sure we were ready for another winter. Autumn was something we wanted to do right.
Each walk in the woods could be the last one until spring. The leaves exploded into colors. In the middle of a walk we might stand transfixed. The bright sun in the blue sky and the red, yellow, and brown leaves. It was one last celebration of color before the world turned black and white and grey for months.
Now, without remembered autumn stillness, we speed from one thing to another. We need to make our own opportunities to stop and listen to the sacred stillness.
Making Time for Fresh Autumn Stillness
Autumn stillness is more than a childhood memory. Even without natural reminders of past autumns, we listen to stillness.
We sit, close our eyes, and listen for the stillness which draws us into itself.
There are moments we can remember when sacred stillness was all around us, filling us, and pouring out into the world.
The sacred stillness within us listened to the sacred stillness all around us. Stillness around us listened to the sacred stillness in our hearts.
It is one stillness.
No matter when it was or where we were, we listened to stillness and it drew us in. Each time we listen, it begins fresh.
When we listen to sacred stillness we realize it has no limits. The same stillness fills us as fills the rest of the world. The sacred stillness was the same in the past as it is in the present, and will be in the future.
We forget autumn stillness when are distracted by the noises around us and within us.
Each season has its own unique flavor of stillness. Summer stillness is an experience of lying in the sun, feeling its warmth. Autumn stillness is more of a calm before a storm. Winter and spring have their own distinct flavors of stillness.
We get a small taste of autumn stillness and it lingers on the tongue of our minds. It is almost as if we need to distract ourselves to leave the distractions behind. We breathe in autumn’s aroma and remember stillness we have listened to before.
Autumn stillness draws us from the busyness and distractions with which we fill our time.
Savoring Autumn Stillness
Experiencing autumn stillness can be like recalling the flavor of our favorite dessert. We take time to remember and find the flavors and texture again. It is not a matter of eating the same meal over and over. Our appreciation deepens and grows as we take time to savor what we have already tasted.
We may be allowing flavors to roll on our tongue again or listening to sacred stillness. We savor what we have experienced, reflecting and drawing new appreciation from it.
Whether it is sights or sounds or aromas which remind us, we remember autumn stillness. It may be geese flying overhead, smoke from an open fire, or leaves falling from trees. Autumn comes back to us, filling our minds with sacred stillness on the first morning of autumn.
We can choose to take time to savor what autumn stillness has for us. Sitting or standing still, we give our consent for autumn to teach us its lessons. Listening to sacred stillness slows us down long enough to reflect and recognize.
Remembering how delicious autumn stillness can be opens us to taste more each day.
It may be a taste of coffee or the smell of smoke from a pipe. Our memory make be sparked by a particular song or a specific place. We remember and pause to listen to sacred autumn stillness.
What reminds us and what we hear when we listen are uniquely personal to each of us. No one else can describe the stillness we hear when we listen.
Listening to Sacred Autumn Stillness
It may feel like we are doing nothing, wasting our time. Why would we pause in our busy schedules, on purpose, to listen to sacred stillness? What difference does autumn stillness make in our lives, in our world?
Listening to sacred stillness changes us from the inside out. When we recognize the benefits, the importance of taking time we begin to change. Our inner lives become more open and our public lives become more honest.
Listening to sacred stillness will probably not solve all our problems immediately. Slowing down and remembering gives us opportunities to fit the pieces together in new ways.
As we begin to change we also show more of who we are to the people around us. We know ourselves better and can be more honest with ourselves.
Sacred stillness shows ourselves to ourselves. We take time to reflect on what we hear.
Autumn stillness whispers sacred truths in our ears.
When will we listen to sacred stillness on the first morning of autumn?
What wisdom does sacred stillness have for us this week?
[Image by Kaarina Dillabough]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.