Autumn Equinox ~ The Waning and the Blessing
by Maria Ede-Weaving
The paradoxical mystery and beauty of the Autumn Equinox is that when the year is waning and moving towards the dark and colder days of winter, the earth blesses us with abundance. This blend of decline and bounty always comforts me because it suggests that the Earth provides us with all we need to deal with the more challenging times to come, and this can be understood at a deeper level: nature provides us with not only her harvests, but her strength, wisdom and endurance too.
Many years ago, on a beautiful day in September, I sat with my father in a deep valley on the South Downs. We had been walking and had stopped for lunch. The sky was cloudless and vividly blue; the hawthorn and elder trees that grew along the valley floor were heavy with berries. Sunny September days always seem to spread a light across the landscape that is both golden and mellow and yet clear and bright, and that day was no exception.
My dad lay on his side with his back to me, stilled within his own reverie. In that moment, I felt a sudden rush of emotion, an inner knowing that I should remember this moment, take a mental snapshot of my dad, so clearly in his element, happy and content. I knew that in the future, when my dad was no longer here, I would recall this tableau: the wide blue sky, the vibrant red of the hawthorn berries, that extraordinary otherworldly light and my father, relaxed, happy and perfectly himself. It was a moment that summed up the essence of the person I loved and also of the gift he had given me in encouraging my love and connection to nature.
Years later, my father passed away, and in the bleak season of grief that followed, that golden day – although something I had to dig deep to recall – nevertheless drew from me a gratitude for the life of this man and the blessings I received in knowing him.
It can be so easy to forget our bounty amidst the struggles and distractions of life. We can bemoan the absence of things; we can overly focus on the perceived lack – I have certainly been guilty of that many times – but the beauty of the Autumn Equinox is that it is an annual reminder of how blessed we truly are. That golden September light reveals the magical in everything it touches, illuminating the very essence of nature in all its generous abundance. It is true that there is a melancholy that hangs like autumn mist at the edges of that light, for we know that there is transience and with transience comes loss, and yet the essence of our blessings is unchanging and eternal.
The sweet fruits of autumn are to be enjoyed; they also give us the opportunity to stash a little away to grace the leaner times. This Autumn Equinox, give thanks for your harvest, for nature’s generosity; preserve your beautiful memories, like exquisite jams and chutneys, to be savoured through those winter months; to nourish you when the soil is frozen and life feels suspended and grey.