Maple leaves and metaphors fall to the forest floor, as October’s annual ritual of letting go arrives. Yes, time to release to the soil all that no longer serves. Autumn offers the perfect frame for that, in the woods and inner life.
Yet along with the letting go, there is new growth and grace. When the fall rains arrive in the Oregon forests, the living colors of earth are immediately refreshed. With summer dust scrubbed, the forest’s greens, browns, and yellows become vibrant once more. The evergreens seem to sing with the mist, releasing fresh fir scent into the moist air. Mushrooms sprout with the rapidity of new love, all as connected underground as our souls are. The forest can breathe again, and so can I.
Within the stillness and arrival of rain, I can see beyond the first layers of seasonal metaphors, into where the qualities of all seasons merge. Autumn hosts one of those mergers, for new green appears within the palettes of brown. Spaciousness between barren branches is growth of its own. When I let go of all that no longer serves me, a parallel spaciousness allows new inner growth to begin as well.
There is as much growth within the letting go of autumn as in the fresh abundance of spring. Growth is happening under the surface layers of winter snow and stillness too, without which spring wouldn’t be as brilliant. Even our summer dust and wildfire anxiety only mask abundant new growth, including growth in trust that we’ll once more reach the rains. Growth and grace are ceaseless, as steady as the infinite stars.
Ceaseless growth and grace also reside in love and creative expression. Pandemic times have strained our connections: friendships have suffered, as have lovers, family, performing artists, everyone. The challenge of safe gatherings has created a long season of dormancy, affecting everything from celebrations of new and passing life, to intimacy and music.
Yet our need to create, express, and share has stayed as primal as breathing. It’s ceaseless too. Even when concerts and plays were impossible, music and art remained as essential as ever, and those compelled to create kept quietly creating still. Seeds of songs and paintings were planted, and are now appearing out of the soil, as interconnected as mushrooms and souls. All other expressions of spirit and love are also still finding their way into being despite hardship. Love still blossoms. Growth and grace still permeate the stillness.
All we have to do to notice is to join that stillness, enough to hear the tiny whispers of buried seeds of grace yet to sprout. They’re everywhere, within the letting go. Love and art are seeding even now, in this moment, no less existent for their presence in a place yet beyond notice. I celebrate the truth of the growing grace we can’t yet feel or see.