Each year, I am equally surprised when autumn bursts into full view. There is no ignoring it. The leaves morph and change before our eyes, moving away from their emboldened green color to the bright yellows or reds that change the landscape around us and demand we stop and pay attention. The feel of the air turns colder in the mornings and evenings at first, but before long, the chill in the air calls us into our homes. We long for warmth and comfort. The darkness settles in earlier in the evenings and stays later through the early mornings, urging us to sleep a bit longer. The schedule we followed just a few months ago, amidst the peak of summer seems harder. Our energy may lessen.
Nature seems to be urging us to change with the seasons. The leaves of the tree outside our back window—the ones that have shielded the trunk and branches from the searing sun of hot summer are being let go. They fall delicately, almost in slow motion. The tree that was once so lush and full becomes stark and bare. It is all about the essentials and rooting back down in preparation for the survival of winter.
And are we not the same? Sometimes, I think culturally we are expected to dwell in the season of summer for months on end, all year long, for the duration of our lives. The message is that we must be productive at all times. Faster is better. More is the objective. Our worth is tied to our yield. The days are packed tight with activities and all manner of extroversion. But what if this is simply not how we are designed to function best? What if we were to choose to live mindfully in tune with the seasons and take a cue from all that surrounds us?
I have been giving a great deal of thought to the idea that I might have some leaves that I could let go in the efforts to slow down a bit, live more deeply, and fortify myself. As it turns out, I am not so different from the trees! I am looking at the way I choose to spend my time, what habits and beliefs have crept their way into my being, and whether my life truly reflects what I feel I need to be happy in this moment.
And so it is that this autumn, I will be looking to turn inward. To embrace the warmth of hearth and home. To awaken each morning with a hot beverage. And to pause and take in all the glory of fall.
I will also try to let go of a few things that aren’t really serving me. A few of the leaves that I want to let go of are:
- The guilt that often accompanies the time I take for myself amidst the day or in other words, the belief that my worth is tied to my busyness or productivity. That is the first leaf to go!
- The belief that DO-ing is superior to BE-ing. I am letting go of daily leaves that reinforce the manic nature of some days. If I can do without that errand or consolidate trips to the store, I am doing it. I am willing to embrace having less so that I can live fully more. I want to slow down and connect more deeply.
- I will continue to fortify my roots in ways that I find grounding. Meditating, hiking in the mountains, reading good books, and making room for creativity are a few of my staples.
Family activity or fall ritual idea:
- Gather some colorful leaves together. Pick two or three leaves for each person involved. Heat your iron on the lowest setting. Sandwich each leaf between two sheets of wax paper. Cut around the leaf with a two-inch border or so. Label each leaf with something each person would like to let go or add as a fortifier. A permanent marker might work best. Talk about the importance of letting go beliefs that limit or hurt us in some way. Chat about how fortifiers can be grounding amidst times of change. Hang them in a window so that the sun can shine through them!!
- Or build a fire or sit by candlelight. Gather sheets of paper (shaped like leaves if you are super crafty but plain will also be fine!). Have each person write down two or three things they want to let go of or fortify. Burn all of the let go papers as you talk about the importance of both letting go and fortifying ourselves.
I would love to hear how you experience Autumn. What are some leaves in your life that you would love to let go?
Absolutely perfect! Well-written, meaningful, and inspiring. I’m already picturing my little family by firelight, finding calm in the chaos. I love this.
I would like to let go of a number of things in my life that aren’t working for me. A main one is the fear that keeps me from doing things I want to do. Of course, due to that same fear I would never actually write it on a leaf and share it with people, because I’d be afraid I would fail at letting it go. I would probably go for something that feels easier and wouldn’t make a big difference to me.
Great read. I love autumnal lettin go rituals. Thank you for the reminder.
Thanks Margi…John is obviously in the “public eye” a bit more, but your words here show some deep and amazing wisdom and connection to what is important. I concur with all you’ve said. My wife and I have been hiking regularly on Sundays for many years…and as we post our pics we call it “church today.” We hike all year in our beautiful mountains, as each season has its own cleansing energy. We are blessed in Utah to have four beautiful, unique seasons to enjoy.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Love the notion of a season change as a relevant shift in human mode of being, but couldn’t help but be amused at the crafty object lesson to turn it into a busy production thang. Baby steps.
Beautiful post, Margi!
Great job, thanks Margi! And personally I loved the crafty part! There are those of us with little kids who need things like this to replace the religious crafts our kids used to do in primary. Nice job, made me think about just myself and my kids. ????
“Be still, and know that I am God.
What kind of “hot beverage”? Not the bad kind I hope. =)
I am new to Mormon Transitions. I have suffered from “Mormoholism” in the past. I choose to let go of ‘guilt’. I am unable to explain myself to my old, fanatical community. I choose to let go of whatever some bishop & mother think of me. I choose to be ‘active’ in love, unfeigned & ‘inactive’ in empty ordinances. I choose to fortify by boldness and my quiet rebel-heart.
Margi, you don’t know me, but I wanted to comment. I really like your notion of letting your own “leaves go”. This is a beautiful expression of this seasonal transition. Several days ago I hosted friend’s birthday party and decided to turn it into an Autumnal Equinox celebration. I researched the pagan beginnings and the traditions and ceremonies that have held strong over the years. My hope was that my friend, who has always hated having her birthday on the cusp of everything getting darker and colder, would see in the ceremonies and stories, that the darkness is just a time to rest and regenerate. It’s part of light. I think you know of Krista Tippett (I’ve noticed John reference it) and I found this really wonderful essay by Parker Palmer in a recent blog post. As he ages and is living out his own autumn years, he has chosen to adopt a really positive perspective. Maybe you’ve seen this, but I thought I’d share it anyway.
I have am letting go of the idea that I have to explain all my reason, all at once, to people that want to know why I am not a believer anymore. Really, it is better to take baby steps, giving a little information here and a little there. I dumped too much on our teenager when my husband and I had a talk with him about our unbelief. It was too much and just caused him to become stressed.
I also want to let go of the guilt I feel about indoctrinating my children while they were young, and having to un-indoctrinate them now.
In addition to those things, I want to let some things in my life go while I am in school. My house and yard are not going to look like they did when I was a housewife. I won’t make it to every parent teacher conference, or to every concert. It is okay not to be perfect. Like John Steinbeck said, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
In Texas we are not as blessed by the phenomena of color to remind us that fall has approached. For us, trees are ever green and shed their leaves year round. You would never know the trees were shedding their leaves if you weren’t in tune with nature (or the one having to blow or rake the leaves, ha!). Maybe culturally for us Texans, it could be a constant reminder not only of letting go but being in tune with our inner self. The change in temperatures certainly are a welcome relief for us. The change in our eating patterns are more evident too where we go from eating fresh cold salads and soups to hearty stews. Our family doesn’t really have a fall ritual, but certainly something to think of. Thanks for the blog post. It is a beautiful and poetic reminder of seasonal transitions and of our need for letting go so that we can make an impact for good. Goodness knows we need it.
I need to let go that I am not perfect, far from it actually. I work in a hospital setting where I am continually trying to help people and some days, it is one person after the next needing my assistance. Although I really enjoy my job, there are many aspects of it that are physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Some patients are kind, some are not. Between the busy pace and the intricateness of our computer program, mistakes happen. Yesterday I made a mistake, of which I have made many. I berated myself, and began to feel anxious, and my heart rate started to soar. Feeling fearful, I went to my boss and explained what happened and to my surprise, she wasn’t mad at all, and gave me something to give to the patient for the mishap that occurred. And then a co-worker said, “Hey, you learned something and the patient did too.” Yes, what did I learn? This was an epiphany for me! What have I been doing to myself? What would I tell a friend of mine who made a mistake similar to mine? Exactly what my friend said to me. I need to be a friend to myself. I need to let this leaf fall, this pattern of mine, that is so self defeating. Thank you Margi, for your beautiful words of inspiration! This is exactly what I needed to read this morning.
Thank you Margi for your beautiful words of inspiration. I really needed to read this today. –
Wow, beautifully said. I will be looking forward to your next blog. I see myself as part of nature so your ideas speak deeply to me. ????❤️
This is a beautiful post. Like many others have expressed, I’m letting go of the need to please others.
Deep and inspiring
You remind me of my favorite hymn “The Wintry Day”. Not all verses fit the spirit of your message, but the first seems perfect.
The wintry day, descending to its close
invites all wearied nature to repose
and shades of night are falling dense and fast
like sable curtains closing o’re the past
pale through the gloom, the newly fallen snow
wraps in a shroud the silent earth below
as tho ’twere mercy’s hand had spread the pall
a symbol of forgiveness unto all
As I sit at my computer, drinking a cup of the “bad kind” of hot beverage and watching red leaves blow past my Michigan window, I feel so grateful for the seasons of weather and life. There’s time to run like your butt’s on fire and time to slow down and watch everyone else run. Both are valuable.
If I could let one leaf blow away, it would be the prideful way I push my adult children to “run” like I do. I know there are so many different and good ways to live life, I just forget it sometimes.
In Parker Palmer’s interview with Krista Tippet, referenced by Becki Durham, there is this poem:
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
—Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Robert Bly)
I so appreciated your sharing of thoughts about Fall. It has always been a time of reflection and admittedly some melancholy at the approach of winter, for me. I have to remind myself that it is a phenomenon of the southern and northern climes of the earth. Not all peoples experience a repose of nature that we experience. As such, it gives us opportunities to reflect and to anticipate what lies ahead — the notion of rebirth, longer days and more light.
I am touched by your ‘words of wisdom’. You have a gift with words. My sense is that through magnifying your gift of expression, it has been a balm for your soul, through troubled times. It reminds me that I need to be better at writing down daily gratitudes.
I’ve often pondered how some religionists are so doomsday that they simply can’t wait until ‘the next life’! It is their hope and all they talk about. I find it a shame and a slap in God’s face that we sometimes don’t fully acknowledge the wonder and beauties of this life and sphere that were created for us.
Of all of the planets of our small solar system, this one was created with perfect rotation, a perfect mixture of air, and a perfect range of temperature to support life as we know it. It allows mankind to play out how we will treat one another and what we will learn from it. It allows us to look into space and parts of this sphere, with wonder, awe and profound humility at the order of things.
As the poem alludes, there is a hand that infinitely calms and holds us through our failings and fallings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about reflection and rebirth. About living more mindfully and deeply; understanding that the busyness of “doing” is good, but “being” is better. Many thanks!