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

Be “Laetare!” for Someone

Fourth Sunday of Lent

 

March 22, 2020
Laetare Sunday

Click here for today’s readings

Light

Laetare! Rejoice! Lent has run half its distance to Easter.

I know it may be a bit difficult to rejoice in this Corona time, but think of this.

Spring has stepped over the horizon!  The long winter watch is over. But before we shake off its black velvet wraps for good, it might be well to think about what winter has taught us. It may strengthen us for this unusually challenging spring!

The stretch of time between November and April is all about waiting. Bulbs wait under the frozen earth.  Bears hibernate in the cold mountains.  Birds migrate, their old nests empty until the spring. All creation seems to enter a time of patience and unrealized expectation.  But it is not a time of desolation.  It is a time of hope for things yet unseen. Perhaps we can make our Corona time that kind of hopeful time.

We human beings also experience “winter” – not simply the seasonal one – but “winters of the spirit”.  We all go through times when our nests have been emptied; times when all the beautiful flowering aspects of our lives seem dormant; times when our vigor and strength seem to hide in the cave of depression or sadness.  These “winters” take many forms.  We may find ourselves sick of a job we had always loved. We may find a long, committed relationship wavering.  We may find the burdens of age or economics overwhelming us.  We may be the unwilling bearers of responsibilities we had not bargained for.

kite

But if we listen, under the deep silence of waning winter, the wind rustles.  It carries the hint of a new season.  It carries the hope of the renewing cycle of our lives.  In that silence, we may be able to hear our own heartbeat more clearly.  We may come to a clearer understanding of what is most important in our lives.  In the stillness, we may be forced to know and understand ourselves in a deeper way.

In this time of global angst and uncertainty, I think of a powerful image from the works of St. Teresa of Avila.  St. Teresa imagines God as a warm healer leaning over our frozen world, setting free the beauty of our spirits. This is what she says:

And God is always there, if you feel wounded.
He kneels over this earth like a divine medic,
and His love thaws the holy in us.

When we are compassionate and offer one another hope and light, we free what is sacred in us and we do a holy work.  Every time you touch another person’s life,  — in these times, from at least six feet away — you have the chance to change winter into spring.  You have a chance to be like God.

Call someone who may feel very alone.  Be “Laetare” for them! Pray for someone suffering illness or loss. Send healing hopes to those you may not even know in distant places of our shared earth. Light, Easter rising and renewed life will come. Let us trust God and hold one another up as we wait.