We are now just two days into the Autumn Equinox! In my mind, this equals massive celebration! I believe that every season should be celebrated – after all, Eccelesiastes claims that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted (Ecc. 3:1-2)”.
I’m sure that any farmers reading this are shaking their heads at how poetic the task of harvesting is presented here. As I have worked for farmers for several years, I have seen this head-shaking many a time (I can just see my boss now). I now understand that they are not killjoys; they are concerned for their livelihood. So, I understand a farmer’s apprehension to the approach of certain weather and seasons.
But as for the rest of you civilians: why not try out a new -joyful- approach this year?
Call it your Equinox Resolution. Oddly for me, fall has always felt like more of a ‘Restart’ button than say, January 1st, or even spring. Perhaps it boils down to my being a perpetual student late into my adulthood (25-year-old still working on a bachelors degree) that lends me to feeling this way. With the crisp air comes new classes, new professors, a new chance to change my slacker student ways (who am I kidding – last minute papers are my specialty. Why fix something that isn’t broken?).
So, instead of focusing on what is to come – imminent cold and darkness – why not focus on the HERE and NOW! Isn’t that what your yoga instructor has been patiently repeating to you each week? I don’t even practice yoga (at least not in public) and even I know the importance of a present mindset.
But you do too, I don’t doubt that. I think deep down, everyone is desperate to slow down and soak in the present. But if we did that wouldn’t that be…countering the culture?
Remember the catchy title I came up for this blog you’re reading? Yeah, that serves a purpose! As with all of my posts to come, I hope to challenge you to do just that.
So, let’s talk about sheep for a minute.
My brother has worked on a neighbor’s sheep farm for several years. Through the years Caleb has brought home story after humorous story of these sheep that he cares for. Now, Caleb loves animals, including these sheep. But even he recognizes that within the Animal Kingdom, sheep are not the Einsteins. In fact, the Bible describes how Hebrew shepherds resorted to breaking the legs of a sheep who consistently wandered away from the flock.
That sounds drastic and inhumane in our culture today. But let’s get uncomfortable for a minute and think about that.
No matter our personal beliefs or personality, we all have inconsistencies. We all have habits we cannot seem to break and actions we seem to repeat, even when we know there will be a negative outcome.
What are some habits or mindsets in our personal lives that need their legs to be broken?
Today let’s focus on a fairly simple habit that most people probably struggle with: complaining. Complaining is one of those fundamental traits that most parents want nipped in the bud early. No one likes a complainer – especially not an adult one.
As someone who has worked in customer service for the past eight years, I have learned to anticipate the comments I will get from customers based on the season or weather that day. New Englanders are notorious for talking about the weather, and let me assure you, it is no joke. You would think that after living in an area for long enough, people would no longer act as if they might actually die from the rain, sun, wind, clouds, etc. If its weather, it could end their lives in an instant. It never ceases to amaze me that there truly is no appeasement for the vast majority of people. In the summer, it’s too hot (I have lived in both Georgia and Florida – the two hottest, most humid states. I’m sorry, Massachusetts, but you don’t know heat.). In the winter, it’s too cold. In the spring, it’s too muddy, and still too cold. In the fall, it got cold too fast. Like, people, do you really expect the seasons to act any differently than they have for your entire life so far?
Okay, I apologize for ranting…
But only kind of! Because let’s back up to the beginning of this post. Seasons should be a time for celebration! Every season is a new chapter in your life!
I was lucky enough yesterday to encounter a lovely mother and her young daughter while at a creamery with a friend. The two of us were admiring the cows when suddenly, a young girl comes running over to us. She was enthralled by my friend’s dog. Just like that, we had made a friend.
The mother struck up a conversation with us and we learned that they are originally from Israel, though had recently moved to the U.S. The girl interrupted to mumble something about a sukka. Confused, we simply nodded. A sukka, the mother explained, is essentially a tent that must be built off of the ground and with some kind of opening in the top to see through to the sky. This is a Jewish holiday to remember God’s care and protection of them while wandering nomadically in the desert for forty years.
I walked away from that conversation 1) incredibly grateful for such a unique and heart-warming conversation with complete strangers, and 2) introspective.
What a beautiful concept it is to celebrate specific events in your life. Sure, we celebrate our birthdays. And of course, there are the normal ones of Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. And those are wonderful holidays to celebrate! But I’m talking about celebrating things we may take for granted. Like the fact that it’s fall and once again, hard-working farmers have harvested their crops in order to feed you; like its a rainy day in order that the earth can stay satiated; like the air has turned colder so that seeds can die and create new life in the spring!
There is so much to be thankful for, so much to celebrate in life! Counter the culture for a change by slowing down and paying attention. And you overachievers out there: take it a step further and celebrate what some might call “mundane”.
So, say goodbye to the Summer Solstice, all, and kiss the Fall Equinox hello!
And just in case you’re really struggling with it, here’s a little transition poem to perhaps get you into the spirit of fall…
Farewell, Summer Solstice
Just when we all begin to believe that
Our dream really will come true
You really will stay with us forever
You are gone
Like rapidly burning mist on the mountains
You are present with us
And the next
Without even a hint of your leaving
You have faded away
Into the next season of Life
We have no say in the matter
No choice but to become
Swept up off our feet
And among all the other leaves
And flowers and warmth
Swirling about in a whirlwind
Before we can even begin
To accept this new reality
Suddenly, we notice a
Chill in our bones
A draft haunting the spaces
Between strands of hair
Those long hot days
Where night seemed never to fall,
Not fully anyway, with always
Just one beam of light
Remaining through the night
Illuminating just the edges
Of the world in silver.
Until next time, peace to you!