“Seasons is a wise metaphor for the movement of life, I think. It suggests that life is neither a battlefield nor a game of chance but something infinitely richer, more promising, more real. The notion that our lives are like the eternal cycle of the seasons does not deny the struggle or the joy, the loss or the gain, the darkness or the light, but encourages us to embrace it all and to find opportunities for growth." - Parker Palmer The seasons of our lives are both beautiful and paradoxical. Our inner life is reflected in the outer seasons. Once I understood this, I began to appreciate the dance of life at a deeper level because I could see myself as part of the ecosystem of life. That everything has its time, and that while Autumn represents great beauty, it’s also a time for letting go and death. As daylight chooses to honor shorter spans, we become acquainted with the dark and what she might teach us. As Parker Palmer says: “Summer’s abundance decays toward winter’s death. Faced with this inevitable winter, what does nature do in Autumn? She scatters the seeds that will bring new growth in the spring—and she scatters them with amazing abandon.” In the Autumn and coming Winter months, I often imagine myself going within. To hibernate and meditate - becoming quieter as I slow down, mimicking the exterior world, and integrating the many lessons and experiences this season of my life has given me. Letting go is never easy, but I understand that it’s a vibrant part of living. Like the leaves, we shed what we must as part of the cycle - composting the past, knowing that in doing so, we provide nutrients for the future, where new life awaits - offering new possibilities for bloom in the coming spring. “This hopeful notion that living is hidden within dying is surely enhanced by the visual glories of Autumn. What artist would ever have painted a season of dying with such a vivid palette if nature had not done it first? Does death possess a beauty that we—who fear death, who find it ugly and obscene—cannot see? How shall we understand Autumn’s testimony that death and elegance go hand in hand? For me, the words that come closest to answering those questions are the words. Thomas Merton: “There is in all visible things…a hidden wholeness.” - Parker Palmer
|Like the changing seasons, life is cyclical and looking back at our life we can see our own symbolic springs, summers, autumns, and winters.|
In this modern world, it is easy for many of us to feel loosely bonded to the world’s cycles. As many of our duties tend to stay the same through both heat and cold, the equinoxes and solstices may carry little weight. Yet the seasons do shift, daylight waxes and wanes, and, sometimes extravagantly and often subtly, nature changes her face.
Many ancient cultures devised artful explanations for the never-ending transition from spring to summer to autumn to winter. The Navajo Indians believed the seasons were caused by Estsanatlehi, the wife of the Sun God. They believe that Estsanatlehi renews herself each spring, blossoms in the summer, ages through the autumn, and dies in the winter.
The four seasons are often associated with a joyous, eternal cycle of life.
We can look to the cycle of the changing seasons to create meaning within our own lives.
In each season, there is a prevalent mood that can inspire poignant reflection. Autumn ushers in crisp, chilly mornings and evenings. There is a shortening of days and a lengthening of shadows. Winter creates a bare landscape bathed in bright, pure light. Spring is a time of regrowth and new possibilities. While summer is a time of long days during which the rich fullness of those possibilities can fully blossom.
Like the changing seasons, life is cyclical. Look back over the years, and you can see your own symbolic springs, summers, autumns, and winters.
Each new season brings with it familiar joys that can be pleasurable to reacquaint yourself with. Embrace the feelings that each new season awakens within you. Above all, savor the changes, knowing that each season that passes will come again.
Always remember that each season can connect you closer to the earth’s cycles while bringing something special into your life.
Excerpts from text by Madisyn Taylor