There is just something about Autumn that feels like new beginning. Perhaps it’s a back to school feeling; clean chalkboards, freshly sharpened pencils, and new day planners just begging to be opened. It seems to me, as the cold winds blow in and the trees begin to drop their leaves, that now is the time to reflect and prepare for the coming year.
The Ancient Celts knew this too. Samhain, traditionally celebrated October 31-November 1, marks the end of the harvest season and of the Celtic Year. There is much to be said about this movement into the dark half of the year. Darkness is a necessity for growth. We plant seeds in black dirt. Sleep, which most of us do at night, is the origin for brain growth. Many animals hibernate in the dark winter months for survival. The work that our bodies do (and that our earth does!) in the dark half of the year sets the tone for the coming year.
This year’s Autumn has coincided with a big transition in my own life. One that has me identifying with the leaves as the turn color and fall to the ground. Change, letting go, is certainly a beautiful thing. But it also involves falling. Falling into an unknown.
A few weeks ago, our family was outside raking up the crunchy, golden leaves in our front yard. OK, so my husband was raking. My daughter and I were playing and helping when asked. Our neighbors, a kind Latvian couple in their 60's, were outside doing the same. The leaves from their tree are still a vibrant burnt orange.
“Isn’t it something how each tree is on its own schedule?” he commented.
It sure is something.
I snapped a photo of a few leaves from one of his trees. Some of the leaves look crisp and ready to fall, others are still green. Others are halfway there, the burnt orange of coming change creeping across the greenness. Not only is each tree on its own schedule, we’ll still have to rake a few more times before all the leaves have dropped, while my neighbor’s tree is nearly bare; but each leaf is on its own schedule. Change comes for each of us in its own time, but it will come.
One gift of living attuned to the seasons is the predictability. Autumn comes around each year, whether we are ready or not. The same is true of change. Change presents us with tremendous opportunity for growth, if we are willing to lean into the discomfort. I am finding this to be true in my own life. It is easy to push ahead without acknowledging the feelings…fear, sadness, anger, relief, joy, disappointment. But it is in listening to and working through those feelings where the growth happens.
Open your heart as we welcome the dark half of the year. Reflect on what has changed within you. Notice the parts of you that are resisting the fall. Share with a friend about those changes and be open to hearing about their own changes. Allow yourself to hear and to be heard. Trust that you will find God there, too.
Kelsey is a Celtic Way contributor. Read more about her here.