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Season for Reflection and Renewal

I always know it’s autumn when I find myself sleeping with the window open so that I can feel the slight breeze and hear the leaves brushing against each other. The heat of these last summer days is still lingering stubbornly, bargaining for more time before passing the baton to autumn. But on certain evenings, and in the slight cool of the mornings, I can feel it happening: the cyclical ushering in of a new season.

We’re surely fortunate to live in a part of the world that experiences seasonal shifts in weather. Every three or four months the world slowly begins to refashion itself into something completely new: new colours, new climate, new hours of daylight and darkness, a world ripening again for new discoveries and opportunities.

Autumn has been my favourite season ever since I first read Keats’s famous poem, Ode to Autumn. It begins:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him to help to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

Autumn scene and sunset
How could anyone not like a season so described? I love the crispness of the air inviting like a blank page to write upon, a chance to start something new. But autumn also feels like a season for establishing some order again with schools beginning and people’s schedules and routines changing. Then there’s the slow migration back inside our homes and the putting on of layers of clothing.

A new season is a natural marker between what was and what is coming. The trees will soon begin to shed their leaves, a process essential for their very survival. It’s a reminder, too, of life’s natural rhythms of death, birth, regeneration and renewal. Autumn is a moment in time to take stock of the ripeness of all that has happened over the year

There is also a natural tendency to retreat, reclaiming space and time, that creeps up at this time of year. If we attune ourselves to these natural rhythms, they can surely provide us with opportunities for the reflecting, reassessing and refocusing that this new season invites us into.

Finally, back to Keats again: to me, as the poem suggests, the richness and fruitful abundance of the season remind me that life is a gift, that it is sacred, that its seasons have a purpose and that our social contracts with all living forms and with the earth are what really matter.

Fr. Gerry McFlynn

Author Fr. Gerry McFlynn

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