- By Eileen Vandergrift
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It has occurred to me, many times in the past few months, that this year, Summer felt more like Autumn…a season lost to it’s own cycle.
The levels of social and political unrest, terrorism, violence, broad brushed suspicion and hate, hurricanes, floods and the personal miseries each engendered, requires a deeply attentive listening as we try to make sense of a path forward.
So, I think about the Fall and it’s place in the cycle of things. Those beautiful colors, the ones that signal to us that winter is on the way, are communicating more than we generally understand.
All Summer long leaves sport a variety of greens that flash through us with reminders of growth’s lush business. While we are often excited to see more varied colors and the crisp air that breezes through them, they are actually indicating that Summer is closing up shop and preparing for Winter. Leaves begin their undoing dance preparing for a retreat in keeping with their survival needs.
When leaves turn gold or russet or brown they are showing us what they have lost…punctuating their own growth by shedding what they can no longer use. Primarily, Summer’s green reveals that the tree’s factory, it’s food producing processes, are in top gear. Yellow lives beneath green, red the same. When the seasons change, food development sources, in the form of water feeding roots and sun providing the fuel for the functions of photosynthesis, diminish and then stop. Those fabulous reds and browns reveal that glucose has been made waste. Glucose, warmed by the sun, but not transformed by photosynthesis, gets stuck in the leaf and dies into it causing the leaf to wither and fall. Food, no longer usable by the tree, becomes waste.
The yellows and oranges, mostly embedded throughout summer, hidden by the greens of chlorophyll, come forward for display but are also, eventually unsustainable, so die. Long and leafless tree Winter’s are a time for cleansing and moving slowly, so as to survive into another more welcoming season. It’s not magic, though it is a beautifully orchestrated wonder.
I hope deeply that after the challenging Summer season we have all just endured, we can move inward, consider what we need to discard, what waste has been revealed by the ways we have dealt with what we have taken in and that we can prepare to begin again.
May what has had to be revealed, and then let go of, facilitate our growth. May all the suffering we have witnessed, or experienced up close, touch home and may we find, and feel, how connected we are to our human family of losses so that we can begin again to share the new Spring which always offers second, third and forever chances to do things differently.
Say ‘No’ to hate, say ‘No’ to hardheartedness, say ‘No’ to violence and prejudice, so ‘No’ to selfishness…try hard to say ‘Yes’ to each new season in your life by recognizing that those dark waves of fear that move within us all, incline us to mistake sequestered hearts and minds for safety. Do not choose Winter as a way of life. We need one another and, I believe that our lives get better when we feel that pulse.