As summer gives way to autumn what am I being invited to surrender?

There’s a walk I do regularly that takes me past an ancient Beech Tree. Although this may seem strange to some, this beautiful, old, wise tree has become a friend. I say hello to her whenever I pass and run my fingers across her trunk. I ask her if she as anything to say to me, her wisdom has been a source of encouragement and strength. Her life speaks… endlessly.

Before I am condemned a heretic I know my Beech Tree friend is not God, I know she is a symbol, a metaphor, a story. I know Holy Spirit speaks through her to my heart. I do also know she carries the Divine as all created things do, how can they not when crafted by the Creators hands and heart? I don’t know why she’s a she and the old Oak I pass is a he, trees are not gendered and yet her femininity has been important to me, has spoken deeply into my own for which I’m grateful.

What I’ve learnt about my life and journey from the Beech Tree will find its way onto these pages bit by bit. Today I share how her ancient wisdom has helped me surrender to the changing season.

I’m a warm weather girl, I love the feel of sunshine on my skin, of sharing the outdoors with  bird, insect and butterfly. I come alive in Spring, I wake up, I feel hope, anticipation and excitement that warmer, longer days are on their way. I also feel loss, a quiet grief as summer gives way to autumn. I look ahead into shorter days, to being indoors, to knowing I will experience being cold – a lot – with trepidation, with a sense of sadness. I know there’s nothing I can do about this change and I know it’s part of the cycle of living. I know it is as inevitable as my exhale and yet I resist it every time it comes round.

As I passed the Beech the other day and rested my hand on her trunk, I asked her what it was like to change season. What was it like to get ready to die, to shed her leaves, to become utterly bare and exposed at a time of cold, biting winds and driving rains. I sensed her surrender, her having been around long enough to not fight this great shift or cling to her covering. She is surrendered to with what is, yielded to the death she will experience, to letting go. I sensed her welcoming the death of her leaves falling silently and effortlessly to the ground. Perhaps she welcomes the lightness, the freedom of being bare. Perhaps she’s old and wise enough to know that this exposing vulnerability brings with it the opportunity for new life. Perhaps she’s well versed in letting go in order to make space for what’s to come.

I sense the same invitation as I recognise my desire to cling to what has been, to fight for an eternal summer. I too am invited to let go, to release my grasp on the warm, long days and accept this autumn winter time. It does feel vulnerable to let go, I do feel exposed especially this year as we continue to navigate the unknown path of COVID being in our communities.  I also sense an opening, a small, gentle welcome to what these coming seasons will bring. To allow them to be what they are and to walk through them being as present as I can to their moments.  Although these colder seasons are not my favourites they do have something to offer. These dark, colder days where I may feel exposed and vulnerable create space for the new, for me to grow, transform and trust. And what joy when spiring comes again, what contrast, what hope. If long, warm days were all I had how would I know the joy of the new, fresh buds already waiting to open?

I’m thankful for nature, for how she parallels my life in so many ways, of her reassuring presence and her example. I’m thankful that there is a rhythm to life that makes it work and that unfolds even when I resist. I’m thankful for this opportunity to yield once more, to make space, to choose vulnerability and to trust the season I’m in. I will continue to walk past my Beech Tree friend and watch as she releases her leaves and I will continue to be comforted by her ancient, wise presence.

Perhaps one or two of these questions may help you discover where you are being invited to yield to autumn…

Is there any part of me right now that has a sense of loss or sadness?

Where am I being asked to be vulnerable? To allow myself to be seen even if it feels exposing?

What am I being invited to let go of?

Where am I afraid? Can I welcome God’s love here?

Are there signs of new life even if the buds are a way off?

This blog is accompanied by a meditation which can be found here

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