This year both of us turned 70 years old, Rich in January and Jayne last week. A big milestone! With the trees turning color this month, it has caused us to think more deeply about this autumn season of our lives and the parallels we see. Entering what we would consider the last productive season of our lives has caused us to ponder what this season might look like, to ask the question, ‘What will it take to finish well?’ Earlier in the year a friend shared this meditation from Macrina Wiederkehr’s book Seasons of the Heart. It spoke deeply to us in this season of change and transition. It is a bit longer than we normally quote but, we share with you here:
“That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds of the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?” Matt 6:25-26
“I worry too much. Autumn trees ask me not to worry. They like Jesus, suggest trust rather than worry. So often in autumn I want to go lean my head against a tree and ask what it feels like to lose so much, to be so empty, so detached, to take off one’s shoes that well, and then simply to stand and wait for God’s refiling. It sounds so simple, so easy. It isn’t easy. But it’s possible.”
“I think I’ve met one person in my lifetime who was truly empty. I didn’t ask her what it felt like, but I remember a quiet joy that seemed to permeate her spirit, and she looked free.”
“We autumn strugglers must try hard not to wear discouragement as a cloak if we can’t wear enough emptiness to make us free. It takes a long time to get as far as even wanting to be empty.”
“Our hearts are hungering for the Sacrament of Letting Go. Once we discover that we already possess enough grace to let go, trust begins to form in the center of who we are. Then we can take off our shoes and stand empty and vulnerable, eager to receive God’s next gift.”
“And let’s pray for one another, for emptying is painful, and the Body of Christ who we are calls us to support each other in this autumn effort. The Body of Christ also stands stripped, crucified, waiting for the new life that each of us can bring to it.
she celebrated the sacrament of letting go
first she surrendered her green
then the orange, yellow and red
finally she let go of her brown
shedding her last leaf
she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
Leaning against the winter sky
She began her vigil of trust.
Why do you worry about clothes? Remember the flowers growing in the fields; they do not fret about what to wear; yet I assure you not even Solomon in all his royal robes was dressed like one of these.
Shedding her last leaf
she watched it journey to the ground.
She stood in silence
wearing the color of emptiness,
her branching wondering:
How do you give shade with so much gone?
And Jesus said:
Do not be troubled or needlessly concerned.
the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and sunset watched with tenderness.
Clothing her with silhouettes
they kept her hope alive.
They helped her understand that
her dependence and need
her readiness to receive
were giving her a new kind of beauty.
Every morning and every evening
they stood in silence
and celebrated together
the sacrament of waiting!
And Jesus said:
Now if that is how God cares for the wild flowers in the fields which are here today and gone tomorrow, will He not all the more care for you . . . ?
Macrina Wiederkehr, Seasons of Your Heart, pages 7-9
As we all watch the autumn cycle, leaves first turning and then falling, the following questions come forward: Where are we being called to Let Go? What are we being asked to Surrender? Where are we being asked to Wait?
Thankful for each of you in this Autumn season, Rich and Jayne