Here we are again. In the US the slide of summer is sinking, the cooler temperatures are coming, and the misogyny with jokes about pumpkin spice lattes is abundant. The arrival of this fall is a bit different though as life is TENSE! I challenge you with how you approach this season because we can take all this discomfort and make beautiful growth out of it. Chances are your life is tense from economic hardship, political division, pandemic panic, uncertainty where you stand about racism, and/or trying to escape the oppressive smoke and fires or hurricanes or floods or tornadoes showing that the climate crisis is real right now. It is A LOT! We are all on the spectrum between surviving and thriving in the middle of an existential eye-opener (I sincerely hope that your situation is more thriving than surviving).
What is there to look at right now for certainty? What is rock solid like the ground beneath your feet?
You can still count on the natural cycle of the season. As we come off of summer heat and the harvest there is an overlying convergence of how cultures and people recognize something bigger is happening outside of themselves. This can be in faith or spirt or understanding of the environment – I challenge you to look at this time as something more sacred than other commercial shopping holidays. I challenge you to connect to your sacred as we make this new normal better in a way we have control over.
In the agrarian past (for most it is the past) you would work your butt off growing your sustenance. Then the harvest brings the fruit of your labor into full view. Maybe some ceremony around the harvest that starts now with Michaelmas or lasts through Canadian Thanksgiving or US Thanksgiving. When you can you take a pause to stop and reflect with gratitude about what got you to a place to have abundance and the luxury of a pause. You pause to think of those who came before you that coincides with a time of the veil thinning and to thank your ancestors for guiding you. Some of us pause, some act scared of the ancestors with slasher films and other gore Halloween tricks but that is people who have not stopped running from themselves and the interconnectedness of the time. You fortify and nourish to prepare for cooler weather and darker days. You focus on who you are and how you radiate in your circles with self, family, community, mankind, and maybe other sentient beings. Then we are at the start of another calendar year thinking our celebrations are different than everyone else’s and unique only to those who look like us.
We are interdependent more than we like to think and the sacred transition from working hard to grow food, recognizing how we stand in this world and who to thank, then moving through the darkness of another solstice are universal themes we do not escape because we have an arbitrary sense of identity.
Today is the middle of the holiest day for Jewish people with Yom Kippur. It is a day of atonement and I think that is beautiful that there is a holiday for the practice of self-reflection and action. Perhaps if we did more of this we would have paused enough to not be in this pickle of 2020.
I had the blessed fortune recently to celebrate a kind community harvest as an outsider. It was supposed to be Harvest Festival weekend for my kids’ Waldorf public charter school but with remote learning there has been no online festival alternative yet. Instead we packed up the car and went to ancestral Tewa and Diné land via an invitation for IBPOC folks to gather. We were invited to call in and recognize our ancestors then study the land and the reclamation it is doing for water democracy, ecological restoration, seed saving rare but not forgotten plants, and in preparing for the corn harvest with an horno to make chicos. The kids and I camped on a river by ourselves to be lulled to sleep with the water and wake up with the sun shining on her. I am so grateful for that pause on the land. I was excited to return to the little patch that we “own” to check on our plants and animals as we know the weather will turn very soon.
We are setting off into one of my favorite times of year with the harvest work mostly done and now the hard work of a season of reflection and connection starting with other humans. It is ironic that with technology and the ability to be in constant communication we are connected less to ourselves, each other, and the land.
This is the challenge to get past what we think we know and release into powers that are greater than us to exist on a level many have forgotten but still resides inside all of us.
Connect to ceremony, make the luxury you may have special. Ceremony and celebrations do not need to cause financial worry. Connect with deliberate intent and return to the human who may have lost sight as the onslaught of this year was approaching. The signs of our current existential crisis have been approaching for quite a long time, we just chose to distract ourselves away from the sacred connection with ourselves, each other, and nature. This is the timeline of this season to recalibrate with something greater than ourselves. This is our chance to do better.