Elemental Selves is Our Nature
As elemental creatures we emerge from creation itself. We are created from this water and that mud. We draw breath from winds that favor a certain landscape and its waters. We live entangled in the intersecting truths of inner and outer landscapes, in the unity of sacred nature that is this wildly diverse world. We live in the created and still emerging creation. We know its goodness through the seasons. We mark our growth and development by its cycle. Thresholds usher us from summer into fall into winter into spring into summer. Each season meets us and we journey on through its distinctive landscape. Seasonal movement shifts us. In turn, we alter its movement. The circle of seasons is a spiral dance of changing awareness and intent.
The turning of one season into another becomes liminal expanses where time and space blur. Weather disorients us, unmoors us from dependable experience of seasoned assumptions. Rain hints at snow, maybe sleet, or is it just rain? Leaden gray skies seem illumined by the glow of summer sun. Yet it is but golden leaves against the bruised sky of autumn. Ambiguity confuses our human need for certainty, thickens our complex nature, allows for connections and creativity. We turn; and turn again, wondering what is this season? What might autumn be asking of us?
Falling leaves. It is in the nature of trees to turn and let go. Larches turn from green to gold, then shed their needles. Maples turn from green to scarlet, then let their leaves drift away. Apples and plums thump the ground with fruit. Emptied trees bare their form and function. As above, so below. Tap roots blossom into a canopy of roots reaching out, tangling with underground insects and critters, mineral earthiness, other root forms of life.
The sun sets early and earlier on our lives. We turn to see our bare lives outlined against a flaming sky. Silhouettes gesture towards the form and function of life in this season. We join migrating birds in this journey of shifting direction, centering down into that which grounds and steadies us, the earth itself. How might letting go be a way into our own underground burrows? Might we find deep rest within the depths of our very selves? What are the bone deep truths that orient our lives?
The elements of the autumn season encourage making connections with our inner terrain. In the hollowed out space of our guts, we connect with this thriving community, teeming with diversity, sensing its wisdom. We sense our way through the texture of emotions and characters that emerge in the light of our searching presence. Skin is the protective barrier and also the permeable membrane. We become aware of this fragile boundary in the damp chill air and icy winds when we fall sick in the transition from summer to autumn.
The element of air draws us into this season. The wind buffets us from all sides. We dodge the wind as it powers through canyons, disrupting a steady walk. We run down slopes aligned with its speedy power. We taste the sharp tang of wind. Lungs full of crisp air inflate; expand our inner canopy with each breath. Our lungs are trees full of life. And when we exhale, we let go breath by breath, connect with the contracting warmth of the earth, sense the metallic cold down to our bony toes. The earth feels hard as iron beneath our feet.
Metal is the element of this season; its gift to us is that we dis/cover our concentrated commitments. We turn over core values, integral questions, formative experiences. Dreams gather in the shadows, haunt and consolidate unlived hopes and fears. Intensity is everywhere: leaves that blanket the ground in drifts of color, and the kaleidoscope of emotions that flow beneath our sturdy composure. Weeping is the sound of the season; grief is the ebb and flow of letting go. Small eddies of sound set us awash even as we are shored up by the wisdom of felt emotions. Channels of grief open in all directions, enlarge our capacity to feel and remember, to forgive and forget, root the possibility of new life emerging in springtime.
Autumn lures us into turning so as to face this particular season, to allow its weather to transform outer and inner landscapes. Shorter days and longer nights become expansive interior space that shatters the sun and sociality of summer. The deepening dark is a solitary experience that welcomes our multiple selves. Sitting in darkness welcomes us into an emerging world of shadows and dreams, a sheltering space that is an inner refuge. In this place of solitude, we dwell within the relentless shadow, become a guesthouse for our inner community. We experience minute by day the diminishing daylight beyond our control. Is this darkening shadow only the fall of evening light? Might it be the sheltering wing of clouds, a prayer shawl that cloaks our evening in holiness that we might meet our very selves face-to-face?
It is here in stillness, in the presence of and perhaps even beyond our restless stirrings, that we settle into our own depths. We learn again to value the worth of our shadows and demons, our commitments and dreams, our experiences and hopes. Autumn is the time of being fallow, of hallowing the seeds of intention.