Autumn Equinox

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

September 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we mark the Autumn Equinox, we pray with a verse from our Responsorial Psalm:

Bless the Lord, all you chosen ones,
and may all of you praise God’s majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, 
give God praise.

Tobit 13: 7-8
"EQUINOX"
- the beautiful heft of the word!
Four malleable vowels and
two steely consonants,
softened slightly by a third.
On the fulcrum of a middle "i",
"equ" pushes for balance
against the pressure of "nox",
whose mass bears 
winter's weighted threat.

However we may read the word “equinox”, it spells “change“. Trees put away their lithesome summer greens, like sleeveless tops folded on September’s shelf. Slowly, they wrap themselves within autumn’s deep gold and umber sweaters, trimmed in warm magenta.

We too return to the enterprise of warmth, of fueling fires, of lighting lamps. What nature gave, and we heedlessly received in bright July, is spent. Some chilled memory of solstice motivates us to prepare.


Our hearts too, in synch or out with seasons, cycle through such changes. This inner rhythm of need and abundance is the music through which the Holy Spirit shapes our understanding of God. As in all graceful dances, there must be a yielding. There must be abandon to the mystery into which each passing step dissolves.

God hums the infinite song in our souls, if we will listen. It is deeper than any single note of joy or sorrow. It is the fluid under-beat of Love which recreates and sustains us in every shifting moment of our lives. We belong to it as the waves belong to the Sea, as the leaves belong to the Seasons.


In Philadelphia, it is a glorious day – a perfect vestibule to a season of amazing beauty.  Nature prepares to shed the showy accretions of summer in a multi-colored ritual of leave-taking. It is time to return to the essentials – back to the branch, back to the buried root, back to the bare, sturdy reality that will anchor us in the coming winter.

On each of the coming days, some new layer of green will ignite in a blaze of scarlet or gold then turn out its light for a long winter’s sleep. Nature knows when things are finished.  It knows when it has had enough.  It knows its need for a season of emptying, for a clearing of the clutter, for the deep hibernation of its spirit.


But we humans often ignore the need for an “autumning” of our spirits.  We try to live every moment in the high energy of summer – producing, moving, anticipating, and stuffing our lives with abundance.  

But simplicity, solitude and clarity are necessary for our spirit to renew itself.  Autumn is the perfect time to prayerfully examine the harvest of our lives – reaping the essentials and sifting out the superfluous. In the quiet shade of a crimson maple tree, we may discover what we truly love, deeply believe and really need to be fully happy.

Take time on these crystal days to ask yourself what is really essential in your life.  Nurture those things with attention and care.  Don’t take them for granted.  After the flare of the summer has passed, these are the things that will sustain you: a strong faith, a faithful love and a loving compassion. Tend them in this season of harvest.

Music: Autumn from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi

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