Stillness on a November Morning
November can be a contemplative month. It begins as we sit in the stillness on a November morning.
The month begins in the wake of costumes and frivolity; false selves on display for all to see. The days grow colder and darker, almost as if the month itself were turning inward. Candles and treats give way to the early darkness of standard time.
Like contemplation, November is a process of letting go. Leaves fall from the trees. We release long, warm evenings and early mornings. The sounds of summer grow quiet. We rake up the leaves that once entertained us and prepare for the challenges of winter. The flashing colors of summer and autumn are exchanged for the stark contrasts of November.
Even in the “endless summer” of Southern California, November is the month when it might begin to rain.
The changes in the physical world encourage us to get in touch with our emotional and spiritual selves. Many of us review what we have accomplished, and what we have yet to accomplish, during the year. We harvest and assess the fruits of the year, pruning back branches to become more productive in the future.
November often prompts us to spend more time indoors, where we have opportunities to reflect and rest. Slowly, drop by drop and day by day, November draws our attention to gratefulness and thanksgiving. We recognize the gifts and blessings of the year.
Each November morning is an opportunity to reflect, remember, and recognize what we have received. We must not let them pass unnoticed.
Rising before the sky becomes light we find stillness on a November morning.
Remembering Stillness on a November Morning
I remember when each November morning seemed to be filled with sacred stillness.
We had time to pause and reflect, to take a deep breath and listen to stillness. Spiritual life was within us and in the world all around us.
Now I live where autumn is a concept. The weather does not necessarily get colder even though the hours of daylight grow shorter. Most of the trees remain green throughout the year. Now autumn moves from pumpkin spice to peppermint.
The November morning stillness I remember caused time to slow down and stand still.
Autumn was a time for raking and burning leaves. Harvesting the results of summer’s hard work gave us food for the winter. Shocks of corn stalks, bales of hay, and pumpkins were more than decorations.
A November morning would be the first day we could accurately describe as cold, possibly the first snow.
The chill and the 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.
Now, without that remembered November morning stillness, we speed from one thing to another. We need to make our own opportunities to stop and listen to the sacred stillness. November seems to get lost in our rushing from one holiday to the next.
If I want to listen to sacred stillness on a November morning now I need to stick to my schedule.
Tasting Sacred Stillness on a November Morning
Each November morning is more than a childhood memory. Even without the natural reminders of the autumns we remember, we listen to stillness.
We sit, closing our eyes and listening for the stillness which draws us into itself.
The sacred stillness within us listens to the sacred stillness which surrounds us. And the sacred stillness around us listens to the sacred stillness in our hearts.
It is one stillness.
Listening to sacred stillness we realize it has no limits. The sacred stillness in the past was the same as it is now in the present, and it will be the same in the future.
We breathe in the aroma of a fresh November morning and remember stillness we have listened to in the past.
November morning stillness draws us from the busyness and distractions with which we fill our time.
Remembering November morning stillness can be like recalling the flavor of our favorite food. We take time to remember and experience the flavors and texture once 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 eaten.
What we hear when we listen is uniquely personal to each of us. No one else can describe the stillness we hear when we listen to sacred stillness on a November morning.
Wisdom in the Stillness
It may feel like we are doing nothing, wasting our time. Why would we pause in the middle of our busy shopping, on purpose, to listen to sacred stillness? What difference does stillness on a November morning make in our lives, in our world?
Listening to sacred stillness changes us from the inside out.
It will probably not solve all our problems immediately on a single November morning. Slowing down and remembering gives us opportunities to fit the pieces together in new ways.
Stillness on a November morning can whisper sacred truths in our ears. If we take time to listen and reflect we will hear the wisdom breathing in the stillness.
We recognize the power and wisdom of stopping to listen to sacred stillness on a November morning. Whether the sun is shining or it is smoky, whether it is raining or snowing, we take time to listen.
Closing our eyes we open our hearts and listen.
When will we listen to sacred stillness on this November morning?
What will we learn as we listen to stillness on a November morning this week?
[Image by Dano]
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 http://StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.