I must have been three or four years old when I realized for the first time that each year had distinct seasons. But autumn intrigued me the most—the time when the trees and shrubs that had been awash in the green sea of summer, suddenly started to morph into flaming bushes and fields of fire. It seemed that red, orange and yellow were splayed everywhere along with variants that were better than any crayola palette I could imagine.
And along with the emerging colors came delightful winds that whirred through the leaves, deflecting light in such a way as to make me think the trees could actually communicate with me. And then of course, came Halloween and Thanksgiving, which made me believe that the trees were a part of some festive cosmic celebration.
So when the leaves began to lose all their color and fell to the ground like kamikaze planes I was quite dismayed. I remember asking my mother why this was happening and my mother in her infinite wisdom telling me that the leaves needed to sleep and rest for awhile so they could come back in the Spring, new and pretty once again.
That explanation worked for a bit until I went to school and understood that the fallen leaves never returned. However, Christmas always followed this event so I never had to dwell very long on the dying foliage. And diving into piles of raked leaves gave some merit to this event.
I am now well into adulthood and over the years, however, I have at times felt some degree of sadness as autumn comes to a close. I’ve often asked myself just what it is that fills me with that sense of melancholia. Is it the barrenness that creeps across nature like a grim reaper? Or perhaps the oncoming chill and dropping temperatures? Or just the connotation of Fall?...Fallen leaves, the falling back of the clock, the diminishing sunlight. There is some irony to the fact that the shortest day of the year heralds in the Winter season.
And yet what happens when Autumn ends? Winter marches in, cold and forceful, like a babbling brook rushing forward, sweeping along the debris left behind by the previous summer and fall. Snow falls wiping clean the earth with a white blanket of crystals, clearing the way for the return of the sun’s warmth -- The cold killing off pestilence and disease, purifying the air to make ready for the newly born growth of Spring. It seems as if even Winter is part of the Grand Design.
The cycle goes round and round as does the passage of time, both moving in one direction with no glance backward. The best any of us can do is collect what is worth saving and discard the rest as we are swept along in the grand plan of the Universe. Every season has its purpose, as does every event in your life, even your darkest hours. Winter comes for each and every one of us. It is inevitable. The only thing mutable is how we deal with it.
Will you rail at the unfairness of its cold and barren nature? Or will you embrace it—knowing that it is a necessary part of your spiritual and emotional evolution? Will you accept that for the tree to grow it must be pruned from time to time, stripped down and laid bare to make way for new growth? It is your choice to bend or to break, to blend or to rage, to rest, reflect and grow or….die….
And that is truly the cycle of life…For time waits for no one. And as I age I realize that neither can I. Each and every one of us is here for an express and unique purpose. The secret of a happy life is to discover what it is then follow your bliss, no holds barred, patiently learning all the lessons that come your way and accepting that God/Spirit does have a plan for us if we can only have the faith to keep moving forward. And know that Spring ALWAYS follows Winter.