Friday, September 18, 2009

On Transitions and September in Maine

I love Maine in September. I savor its gentle temperatures, mist filled mornings, and its quiet country roads. While I’ll admit that there’s a slight melancholy in the air as summer drifts relentlessly backward into the past, there’s a whiff of promise too. The leaves are beginning their spectacular turning, the apples and pumpkins grow closer to harvest with the dawn of each new day, and tomatoes hang ripe and juicy on the vine.

Autumn is a time of both abundance and disintegration, of brilliant vistas and diminishing light. In the midst of plenty, as we gather the harvest, the cooling mornings and shortened days inform us that winter is on its way. Making this transition can be particularly challenging to embrace for those of us who reside in the north country. And yet, embrace it we must if we want to participate as fully as possible in the enduring cycles of nature and in our own inevitable evolution. Everything changes, and just as whole new vistas open up in winter, I am reminded that each and every ending contains its own beginning. Transition periods whether welcomed or not very often compel us to stretch and grow, offering us a certain amount of grace if we will only try our best to meet them with acceptance and receptivity.

Joan Chittister in, “Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir observed, “Transitions complete us. We ripen. We learn. We hurt. We survive one thing after another…Then, in the end, we gain what we came to get – a kind of well worn, hard-won wisdom… the problem is that we all too seldom bother to stop and notice how much we have become in the process.” Each September finds me in a different place than I was the one before. Last year was filled with change, challenge, and celebration. This September finds me struggling to keep a healthy perspective as I slowly and faithfully work my way through grief.

Perhaps I love September so much because it symbolizes on some level crossing over a threshold. Just as the natural world begins once more its seasonal process of transformation - from summer to fall, fall to winter and finally winter to spring- we are reminded that during the course of our lives the landscape of both our bodies and our souls is altered again and yet again.

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