Welcome Autumn

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Last evening, the eve of Autumn, I was comfortably ensconced in my chair listening to the Pacific Northwest seasonal onslaught of rain gently ping against the windows.  Sonorous snores from Sherlock, my tubby tabby, provided bass accompaniment and the savory aroma of beef stew on the stove wafted in, peaking my anticipation.  As the Germans would say, this was the essence of Gemutlichkeit.

Yet, with autumn comes the denuding of trees and spirit, so this arrival of the season is bitter sweet.  This blessing from John O’Donohue has eased me into it.  Perhaps it will do the same for you.

Vespers
As light departs to let the earth be one with night,
Silence deepens in the mind, and thoughts grow slow;
The basket of twilight brims over with colors
Gathered from within the sacred meadows of the day
And offered like blessings to the gathering Tenebrae.
After the day’s frenzy, may the heart grow still,
Gracious in thought for all the day brought,
Surprises that dawn could never have dreamed:
The blue silence that came to still the mind,
The quiver of mystery at the edge of a glimpse,
The golden echoes of worlds behind voices.
Tense faces unable to hide what gripped the heart,
The abrupt cut of a glance or a word that hurt,
The flame of longing that distance darkened,
Bouquets of memory gathered on the heart’s altar,
The thorns of absence in the rose of dream.
And the whole while the unknown underworld
Of the mind, turning slowly, in its secret orbit.
May the blessing of sleep bring refreshment and release
And the Angel of the moon call the rivers of dream
To soften the hardened earth of the outside life,
Disentangle from the trapped nets the hurts and sorrow,
And awaken the young soul for the new tomorrow.
~ John O’Donohue ~
(To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings)

photo credit: spoilt.exile <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/96301483@N05/46243352305″>Склон / Slope</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Almost Autumn At Echo Lake

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On my walk along the lake I spotted a maple leaf, dried to death by the intense summer heat, stunning in its aridity.  Unable to ignore its call, I snatched it up and carried it home to await the muse.

 

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Harrowing the Harvest

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This morning I saw autumn
Catch a ride on a cool moist current
Arriving just in time to rescue the harvest.

Humans need self-saving
When doubt and fear
Beat us down.

We seek spirit-currents
To bring friends
Who call us by our true names
And throw out the challenge:

                      Stand tall
Harrow your Harvest.

 

© rita h kowats August 2015

 

 

“You Go, Leaves!”

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Gerard Manley Hopkins
“Spring and Fall”
to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name: Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Recently the Seattle area experienced two back-to-back wind and rain storms, so severe that the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge was closed.  Police officers had to escort a few traumatized drivers to safety.

Still today, I see leaves clinging to trees as if they don’t know they should have fallen last week, or, as if they refuse to fall until they are ready.  Driving through the city I spontaneously burst into several rounds of “Rocky” music, shouting raucously, “You go, leaves!”  I think this is a healthy spiritual practice.

But the leaves must fall, and
November must come,
Lest there be no spring.
There must be spring.

I have long prayed with Gerard Manley Hopkins.  He is my modern Meister Eckhart, and another profound mystic.  On a retreat many years ago, this poem became a call to integrity for me.  The gloriously colored leaves remind me of the artist and mystic in each of us.  Contemporary society often fears and therefore shuns that aspect of ourselves.  I learned that we need to mourn that loss and commit ourselves to nurture it back to life.  We should mourn when something beautiful dies, because, “It is Margaret [we] mourn for.”

Feather and Shadow

hope is a thing with feathers

Canada geese cast
Quilt-like shadows
On the now-rumpled lake,
Announcing Autumn’s Advent.

My soul
Flys with the geese,
Her feathers borne
On the breath of God
Rescued for the moment
From shadows of
War.  Hate.  Greed.

Alleluia!

This moment of ecstasy was shattered by the loud, strident voices of three homeless men who arrived at the lake eager to party.  Imagine, life getting in the way of spiritual revelry!  All efforts to keep my feathers flying failed, so I continued on my walk.  Once disappointment faded, I realized that this is life: feather and shadow.  I resolved to use these gifted moments of flight to prepare for battle with the shadows of injustice.

Thanks to my soul-sisters, Emily Dickinson and Hildegard of Bingen, for the loan of their sacred images of hope and feather.