What is it about the fall season that turns our thoughts towards endings and death? Is it the shorter days? The falling leaves? The migration of birds, especially the long lines of geese in flight? Is it that we have come through another spring and summer which are so filled with life and activity to the slower days of autumn and the hibernation of winter?
Autumn while resplendent in beauty marks an end. The green lets go and the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows burst forth for a short period. Then slowly drift to the ground quickly covering grass. Walking has more than a rustle of leaves it has a crunch. It has a finality to the summer of life. Many people, while they find the colours glorious, struggle with autumn. Depression increases. Dread for the coming winter and darkness takes hold. Autumn can not be enjoyed for many people.
Just this week I had an interesting discussion, via the telephone, with a person. All I have is a name and a general location of where they live. This person was inquiring as to whether I would be willing to do a funeral when the time comes as he is not a member of my church congregation. My response was, of course! He was shocked and that question led us to a long conversation during which he would repeat again and again that he thought it would not be possible to have this, should he decide this was the route he and his family would like to pursue. It was obviously important to him and when we finished our conversation, he was much relieved. This got me thinking about the autumn of life and what becomes important to people.
Our mortality steps into the fore front as we watch the earth prepare for the changing season. The harvest is well underway. Pumpkins are ready, apples are being picked (the baskets of them smell so good and my favourite Honeycrisp is back in the stores), watering hoses and wheelbarrows and patio furniture are going back into storage as we prepare our outward physical surroundings. But what does the autumn teach us for our inward peace? Have we lived life to the fullest these last seasons? Have or can we let go like the leaves? Do we trust the process? Or do we like that last leaf struggle to hang on to everything? Do we see the beauty and enjoy it or do we see only deep darkness and despair? Are we like the person on the other end of the telephone line realizing that when our end comes, we’d like to have options available of how our life is celebrated in a ceremony? And are we brave enough, like this man, to ask for what will bring us peace, satisfaction or closure despite expecting to be told it was not possible?
Life is filled with change and growth. Each season reminds us of the unique perspective that it brings, each gift that is offered. Autumn reminds us that everything in life changes. Autumn reminds us that we too have grown, changed and sometimes we need to let go and embrace the next step. Our autumns remind us of the importance of embracing life fully and enjoying every experience whether or not they are unique.
Everyday my Golden Retriever and I walk through parks and along side walks. He finds the autumn rather fascinating and curious. If you kick the leaves be prepared for the total enjoyment that brings to a puppy who will take you in tow to further investigate. And then there are the smells that require frequent stops to check out as many leaves as possible. And what’s a walk with out having a good roll in the leaves? If the wind blows, then it is game on because the leaves must be chased and caught. I would like to say that I find as much enjoyment in the process as he does, but being taken in tow is frustrating and he is learning (most of the time) to leave it. But what I do know is the beauty in the colour that is laid out like a carpet for us to walk on. The crispness of the leaves adds to the sensory enjoyment and I confess I can’t help kicking the leaves just to see the reaction and the joy that comes with the necessary investigating. Autumn marks an end (I confess I really do not like winter) but it also signifies that the earth is beginning to rest so that life and all its challenges and glory can be renewed in the spring.
Enjoy your walks, ponder necessary changes, listen to the leaves under your feet, touch the trees and feel the continuum of life under your fingers as new buds take this time to get ready for a new season. Let go of what holds you back and celebrate the beauty around, even if it means this is the preparation for a final harvest. Celebrate each moment and take the opportunity to enjoy each experience to the fullest.