Autumn is a season for retreating inward once again. We return to more regular habits and schedules, reflect on our lives and goals in more depth, and observe the analogous changes in the natural world. This timing is no coincidence, of course, since we ourselves are very much a part of nature!
We tend to focus much more on inward growth this time of year, instead of outward “doing” of so many things. We become somehow more serious. It’s a subtle shift, but an important one.
There is no turning away from, no ignoring that something essential is changing as the days cool, the darkness comes earlier, and the leaves magnificently transform themselves before shrivelling and dying yet again. The beauty in this, though, is that all the greenery – all the life that seems to be dying – is really just returning itself to a very important cycle of life.
Those crispy brown leaves that were once vibrantly orange, yellow, and red will turn to soggy mush in the earth, only to again become one with their source, feeding the rich fertile ground that is so necessary for all of life to flourish and thrive once again. Don’t you see, our very lives are a part of this same cycle? And that is a gorgeous way of surrendering to all of life’s seasons – ups and downs, ins and outs, joys and sadnesses, beginnings and endings.
“Desire for rebirth!
Clouds pushing the rains,
Winds roll-grinding dry leaves to soil,
Quenching rays of the sun
Initiate us in the secrets
Of your creations!” —unknown
When I think of the symbolism and lessons so ripe for learning this time of year, I am again reminded of the importance of letting go – as with each season. Of course, in thinking of and dealing with the very real experiences of death and rebirth that are so inevitable in living life – we must all learn at some point how to gracefully let go, if we desire peace. Of things, experiences, times of life, people…
Personally, I’ve found some help in accepting the truth that sometimes, “I’ve loved as much as I can here.” I’m not quite sure where I originally heard this, but these are not my own words, they’ve simply held a useful place in my mind and heart.
This is a very difficult thing for a giver, an unconditional lover, a martyr of love even, to say – much less accept. Yet it’s an important lesson in realizing that one’s love cannot always “fix” things or have them turn out how we feel they should. Make it better, make it last.
In fact, the lesson in such heartrending situations is that these inclinations are not love at all. They prevent us from letting go of the things we so love, and allowing them to be continually reborn, as they are meant to be. Our desire to hold on separates us from true love, and life itself.
Love is knowing that all people and circumstances are just as they should be. That we’re all exactly where we need to be. Love is acceptance of whatever is, right now. It is letting things go when the time has come, out of love for both ourselves and others. It is trusting that everything — including us — will be okay.
This often means that we have to change the way we’re looking at the situation. Such a huge part of us – our ego, our pride, our desires, our fears – want to do all that we can to hold on and make this work somehow. To not let it “die.” As though in letting go, we will lose what we love so much. We can never lose what we truly love, for it lives within us!
Somewhere deep inside, we feel exhausted and know that there’s no way things could go on like this forever. Never changing, never growing, not really living. We also know in our gut that it’s deeply unnecessary when real love is present. It is not something that needs to be proven or fought for, made immortal or perfect, it just is.
My most recent lesson in learning to let go was saying goodbye to my beloved Grandma Anne, as her beautiful soul peacefully floated away from her physical body after 93 years full of grace.
On October 31, Grandma officially became the angel that she’d always been anyways in all of our lives.
There are few things I’m more grateful for than the fiercely loving, loyal, strong, yet gentle women in my life who have helped to shape me into the woman I am – while always giving me something higher to strive towards.
Much of what they do often goes unnoticed or unappreciated because it’s so constant and selfless, but really where would any of us be without these amazing mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers?
My grandma Anne was one of these incredible women, who dedicated her entire life to the happiness of others, which is where she found hers.
One of the most difficult, essential lessons to be learned through human death, is that our relationship with this person does not end when their body leaves us – it simply changes form. And in this way, we can find peace.
Grandma, An Ode to You
I can’t wait for you to have the wings you so deserve, to feel light and free once more and to enjoy Grandpa again, now without the weight of the world.
I’m forever grateful for your example of sweet, generous & selfless love, timeless grace, and inspiring womanly self-sufficiency.
We love you, and thank you for giving us your heart. It will continue shining through all of us who are so lucky to have been loved by you in this life.
Sending you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are so loved and appreciated, in all your forms, wherever you go, no matter the season of your life.
“Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.” – Alan Watts