Ignatius of Loyola, as well as other spiritual leaders, invite spiritual seekers to seek and find the Presence of the Divine “in all things.” As the Pandemic continues into its second Autumn season, I notice how frequently I turn to the constancy, comfort and beauty of the Natural world to calm my mind, body and spirit. Through my many sojourns to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, walks around city parks and lakes, and strolls around and about my neighborhood, I have experienced solitude and peace. I am in awe of the frequent, grace-filled teachings that our Creator offers through Nature.
Autumn 2021 began on September 22 with the Autumnal Equinox and will end on December 21 with the Winter Solstice. This three-month transition between seasons of summer and winter, is an opportunity to balance energies between mind, body and spirit. I choose to contemplate the many teachings Autumn presents, especially, through acts of “letting go,” with harvesting of memories, in gathering wisdom, and by expressing gratitude. I sense a deeper connection to the Earth, to Nature…and to our Creator God. I notice a renewed energy in my body.
Contemplating lessons of “letting go” come easily as I walk on paths strewn with maple seeds, acorns and brilliant-colored leaves falling from elegant trees. I consider cleaning projects in house and garden. I determine to let go of burdens filled with fear and pain from these past 20 or so months of the Pandemic, world and local social unrest, and climate crises.
Contemplating the Autumn harvest with its bounty from a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and blossoms, leads me to recollect varied memories of my ancestors and those spiritual wisdom figures from history who have touched my heart. How might I mirror to others, to myself, their acts of kindness, love, inspiration, courage, patience, perseverance, trust, faith? I think of Rainier Maria Rilke’s words of wisdom, “They are in us, those long-departed ones. They are in our inclinations, our moral burdens, our pulsing blood, and in the gestures that arise from the depths of time.”
Both by contemplating the busy squirrels, cheeks filled with nuts, acorns, seeds, scurrying to their nests in anticipation of the winter ahead, and, by contemplating the noisy geese flying in formation overhead to warmer resting places….my spirit wants to gather in their wisdom from Nature. Gazing at these creatures, I reflect on what I need to nourish and energize me. What do I need to release or heal in order to more fully celebrate life? When I ponder what is yet to be done, to be forgiven or reconciled, in my life, in our world, I seek wisdom to not just understand my small part in the greater scheme of things, but how to act upon it.
Contemplating gratitude this second Autumn of Pandemic, I look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving Holiday with family! How grateful we all are for vaccinations and boosters and careful mitigations from the world of science to be able to create gatherings once again with our families, places of work, social spaces and faith communities!! Joyce Rupp describes this holiday as “…a time to look beneath our external lives for the unwavering love, the ceaseless peace, and the enduring strength that lie in the deep waters of our soul. The more we trust the ‘unknowable depths’ of our existence, the more the power of gratitude becomes a song we daily sing.”
From a darker frame, contemplating Autumn 2021 leads me to be acutely aware of the needs of our Mother Earth, and her creatures living on it… amid scorching heat, draught, floods, destructive storms, pollution…leading to starvation, sickness, anxieties, and extensive suffering to all.
I wonder, good neighbor, how are you doing this second Autumn of Pandemic? May you, too, find constancy, comfort and beauty from the Natural world to nurture mind, body and spirit.
Mid-Autumn 2021 finds me gratefully reflecting on the unwavering Presence of the Divine through tough times to grace-filled glimpses of hope. With all that in mind, I share this prayer from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inviting us to:
“Join with Earth and each other, to bring new life to the land, to restore the waters, to refresh the air, to renew the forests, to care for the plants, to protect the creatures, to celebrate the seas, to rejoice in the sunlight, to sing the song of the stars, to recall our destiny, to renew our spirits, to reinvigorate our bodies, to recreate the human community, to promote justice and peace, to love our children and love one another, to join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery, for the healing of the Earth and the renewal of all life.” Amen!!