September 12, 2021
Embracing the wisdom of the Autumn Equinox
As a child, I always looked forward to the first day of fall. My reasons were entirely selfish, as I eagerly anticipated the arrival of my early October birthday. The withering flowers, the turning leaves, the slightest scent of decaying foliage wafting through the air and of course all things apples intensified my excitement as the day of my birth edged closer.
I don’t recall a significant moment when the shift from dreaming of birthday gifts and celebrations evolved into my wanting a reflective and introspective birthday. It seemingly just arrived one birthday in my early 40’s with a desire to connect to ancestors long gone from this earth. To quench that longing, I graciously declined birthday lunch invites and headed to the southern part of the state in search of cemeteries where great grandmothers were buried and landmarks that revealed where homesteads of my childhood had once existed.
Later that day, my mother and I joined others in a fall flower bulb planting ceremony in hopes of restoring some of the beauty that time and neglect had taken from this rural part of the state. I recall being acutely aware that I had opted to sit with the dead, stare at dilapidated buildings and touch the earth gently instead of a traditional celebration. Pausing to look at the dirt beneath my painted fingernails, I was mildly amused at this shift and its meaning for my life.
The truth about who we once were and its impact on who we are now is in the breadcrumbs we’ve left along the way. Recalling this particular birthday and how it pointed me to where I was going has been lost on me -- until now. This birthday memory reminds me that the changes happening in my heart and soul actually began long before I made the decision to become unchurched, to heal from religious trauma, to become an animal welfare advocate and a warrior for social justice, and ultimately to attend seminary that would solidify all of who I was to become.
That isn’t to say that all birthdays are as ritualized and non-traditional as this one. The profound meaning of this one, however, has stuck with me for years. The sacred power of ritual and its ability to open portals of wisdom and pockets of healing is unmatched by any other force in our lives. Ritual doesn’t have to be forced -- if celebrating your birthday in grandiose style with all the bells and whistles fills you with joy, then Beloved, bask in the light and celebrate!
The balance of living with joy comes from understanding that no one person’s life is always filled with golden light. Darkness does indeed come, oftentimes we are blindsided by it. Other times, we choose to visit to honor what was. That is the wisdom the seasons of the Earth’s life cycle teach us. Looking back, I now understand that my birthday journey back through time was my accepting the wisdom -- and the comfort -- that the darkness of my story offered me. How else could I explain the deep sense of peace and unconditional love I experienced while sitting with death, dilapidated ruins and the cold, damp dirt?
We need look no further than Creation to find space for sacred ritual in our lives. Earth’s seasons offer us a multitude of ways to pause for breath, reconnect with your soul, and remember who we are.
The invitation to live in light by acknowledging the darkness occurs several times each year, Beloved. The autumn equinox is one of those times. The simplified “first day of fall” may roll off the tongue more easily and be more accepted in common day language, but this sacred portal that binds us to the miracle of life remains the same.
Will you accept its invitation to pause, reconnect and remember?
The light dances with the darkness equally on the Autumn Equinox, reminding us that one cannot exist without the other. The light reminds us that the love we share is the healing balm we all need, and the dark reminds us of our need for rest and reflection.
This day is for you.
Pause. Reconnect. Remember.
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