What a beautiful thing it is, this season of letting go. Fall brings with it so many obvious changes that apply so well to our human existence, bringing with it lessons, year after year. Lessons about letting go, about leaving behind the pieces that aren’t serving you, allowing them to cascade like so many leaves at your feet as you prepare for the long winter ahead of you. Stealing yourself, pulling your resources inward, stilling yourself and preparing to survive. Trees, bears, squirrels, frogs, insects, all slow down and settle in. Reminding us that it is okay to rest after a long season of work and growth. That if you have done the things needed, you can survive on very little through the long winter.
The birds’ southward flight is a reminder that staying and facing the challenges of the time ahead is not the only option. Sometimes it it better to take flight, to leave before the snow flies and the challenges arise, to seek safer, more abundant fishing grounds. The lake birds especially remind us that it is useless to stay put as the waters freeze around you, that standing your ground is sometimes the more deadly option. The migratory birds and animals remind us that sometimes the only way to survive is to move on. Their southward flight, wrought with dangers, is a reminder that sometimes safety can only be reached by taking a big risk. Sometimes you have to face a world full of predators and give everything you have to reach safe shores.
As the pulse of life slows and the autumn winds blow, we are gifted with time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. Will we take flight like the goose or settle in for a long winter like the bear? Have we squirreled away all that we need to make it to the next Spring? Have we let go of the things that will only weigh us down and jeopardize our survival? What have we got packed in those bags? Do we need it or did it make the cut because we are afraid to let it go?
Sifting through my baggage this year, which seems to all be piled at my feet (thanks 2020), I have found much that needs to go, old wounds I don’t wish to carry anymore, crosses that were never mine to bear, shame, anger, disappointment, loneliness and despair. There among them are the shadows of the people I used to be, the voices of those who’ve wounded me. I thank them for the space they held for me, for the lessons they carried, even the ugly ones, especially the ugly ones, and ask them to be on their way. I whisper them to the falling leaves and send them dancing away on the wind. Soon, I will gather what is left and offer it to the cleansing fire. As fall deepens and winter descends, I will turn to the resources I have gathered to sustain me, the treasures I chose to draw in instead of cast off. Like the trees, I will spend the winter nourishing my core, resting, healing. When Spring arrives we will be ready to grow and bloom once again.