Today we celebrate the Autumn Equinox, a time of balance in the year when the length of the days are equal in light and dark. There is a change in the air, a new coolness apparent even after a less than wonderful summer, and the fields and gardens are giving up the last of their abundance as they are prepared for a season of winter rest.
I love this time of year, I love the shift in colours from greens to glorious golds, and reds. Having been brought up in a part of the world where the seasons are not marked (the Far East), I still enjoy walking through falling leaves, something I didn’t do until my early teens.
That said I don’t think that I have ever pondered the gift of letting go that this season marks, as crops and fruits are celebrated and harvested the earth gives them up. As the leaves change and fall the land gives them up and gives them back to the earth, we know all of this of course and accept the seasons as nothing remarkable and can even be insulated from them completely if we choose to be.
This year however I am choosing to take time to reflect on what a gift letting go and releasing even the fruitful parts of life can be. I am struck as I collect the apples from my tree and begin to store/ freeze pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables that if I simply left them in the garden that they would rot. Yes I leave some windfalls for the birds, but if I left all of them and did not clear up I would be faced with a horrible mess come the spring.
Harvest celebration, and letting go, which can include lament and time to pause are gifts in life, and while celebration can be easy healthy lament is often a challenge in a world that demands a smiling face and an outwardly positive attitude, tears and mourning are often expected to be hidden away, but they are of course a very real, and a healthy and helpful part of life.
If we never learn to let go and to move on we risk becoming either fragile and brittle or bitter and unable to move on. Over the last few years as I have begun to come to terms with the end of a marriage I have found myself at times to be both brittle and bitter, but facing those truths head on has lead me to a place of grace and growth for which I am very grateful.
I have a lot to be thankful for, a lot of good memories, and of course some regrets, but I must look at those regrets as possible learning points, and routes to change for me that I might never have seen without needing to face my own brokeness.
I love that in the Gospels Jesus recieved people in their brokeness again and again and did not condemn them, but by recieveing them in love invited them to let go of what was past and gave them a chance to let go and move on. I love the story of the Lost Son, who “came to himself” let go of the life he thought he wanted and return to the one who loved him completely, and the overwhelming love that welcomed him home.
Finally I am struck by my own need to rest in that love, that as I begin to let go I am not called to be suddenly reinvented and restored but given by the rhythm of the seasons a chance to rest, and once again I find myself drawn to one of my favourite invitations in Scripture:
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)
All I can do is respond, Just as I am I come…