Practices From the Inside Out: Welcoming Autumn

Practices From the Inside Out: Welcoming Autumn September 22, 2022

Practices From the Inside Out: Welcoming Autumn

Welcoming Autumn

In my memories welcoming autumn is filled with sacred significance.

Now I live in a place where autumn is more of a concept than an experience. The temperature does not drop, even though the hours of daylight grow shorter and the shadows grow longer. Most of the trees remain green.

The seasonal transition from summer to autumn to winter happens 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 ways of welcoming autumn I remember caused time to slow down and stand still. Each walk in the woods held its own adventures.

Autumn was a time for raking and the aroma of burning leaves. Harvesting the results of summer’s hard work gave us food to save for the winter. Shocks of corn stalks, bales of hay, and pumpkins were more than decorations.

We celebrated a harvest festival each autumn.

Autumn would give us the first days accurately described as cold, possibly the first snow.

Where I live now the weather never really gets particularly cold.

The chill and darkness of autumn would draw us into its rhythm. We took our time making sure we were prepared for another winter. Autumn was something we wanted to do right.

Every walk in the woods could have been the last one until spring. The leaves exploded into colors. In the middle of a walk we might stand transfixed. The red, yellow, and brown leaves standing against the sun in the bright blue sky. We had one last celebration of color before the world turned black and white and grey for months.

Now, without welcoming autumn, we speed from one thing to another. We need to make our own opportunities to stop and listen as autumn arrives.

How Are We Welcoming Autumn This Year?

This year, autumn begins tonight. How are we welcoming it this year?

Welcoming autumn can be like remembering the flavor of our favorite dessert. We take time to recall and find the flavors and texture again. It is not about eating the same thing over and over. Our appreciation deepens and grows as we take time to savor what we have tasted before.

We may be allowing flavors to roll on our tongue again or remembering the enticing aromas. We savor what we have already experienced, reflecting and drawing new appreciation from it.

Whether it is sights or sounds or aromas which remind us, we have memories of autumn. It may be geese honking overhead, smoke from an open fire, or leaves falling from trees. Autumn comes back to us, filling our minds with sacred memories as autumn begins again.

We can choose to take time to savor what autumn has to offer us. Sitting or standing still, we give our consent for autumn to teach us its lessons. Welcoming autumn, we slow down long enough to remember and reflect and recognize.

Remembering how delicious autumn 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 autumn happening all around us, and within us.

What reminds us and what we hear when we listen are uniquely personal to each of us. No one else can describe the autumn we hear when we listen.

Some of us welcome the autumn of Halloween, or of Thanksgiving, or of football games. We sit still and allow autumn to wash over us, filling us.

Time for Welcoming Autumn

It may feel like we are doing nothing, wasting our time. Why would we pause in our busy schedules, on purpose, to welcome autumn? What difference does this autumn make in our lives, in our world?

Welcoming autumn changes us from the inside out. When we recognize the value, the importance of taking time we begin to change. Our inner lives become more open and our public lives become more authentic.

We 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.

Taking time to welcome autumn shows ourselves to ourselves. We take time to reflect on the autumn we remember and the autumn we are experiencing right now.

Autumn whispers sacred truths in our ears.

The more time we take for welcoming autumn this year, the more insights and questions autumn can give us.

Take time this evening, and more time each evening, to welcome autumn, tasting and remembering.

Welcoming Autumn in New Ways

My welcoming autumn practices will be not be the same this year as they were when I was a child.

There is very little raking to do, and burning leaves is no longer allowed. Even football games are a different experience.

Welcoming autumn this year is more about taking time to pay attention. We look for autumn, waiting for a chance of rain and the smell of fresh air on a windy day.

Autumn is less about the weather or harvesting crops than it is a way of experiencing the world.

We can be grateful each day when we have enough food to eat and to share, no matter what season it is. Our hearts are filled with thanks because there have not been so many large, dangerous fires this year. We are thankful we are still here when so many have been lost to the pandemic and other disasters.

Living here, in the land of endless summer, we carry our autumn with us, even when we go to the beach.

Each of us explores our own new ways of welcoming autumn this year.

How will we practice welcoming autumn today?

When will we take time for welcoming autumn this week?

[Image by James Cridland]

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.

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