A Blessing for Autumn

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Last year around this time, I was training for a half marathon. The race was the third week in October and because I like to be well prepared for these things, I started training about 6 months in advance. I ran through the summer, as early as I could, so I could make it to work on time and beat the mid-day heat. But at the turn of summer, daylight was becoming scarcer. I was no longer running under the provision of a rising sun but a dark sky.

I remember lacing my shoes one morning and cutting my route short because I was so scared. I held my breath at the sound of an owl keeping watch over the neighborhood and flinched at the sight of passing headlights. I had to listen to music the next month of training, which I rarely do, just to distract myself from my own fearful thinking. But with that being said, I gradually exposed myself to the darkness to the point where I became strangely comforted by the sight of the moon and the stars.

Maybe it’s the uncertainty, the unknowing, the hiddenness of darkness that makes us tremble but perhaps darkness has something to teach us too. Like a seed growing in the dirt, there is inner work taking place in our hearts, minds, and souls each and every day. And just because others can’t see it doesn’t mean the work is less important.

Much like the work we do in therapy, there are things happening beneath the surface that others can’t always see. We’re gaining awareness, rearranging priorities, and discovering strengths. We’re sitting with the pain of our weaknesses and past, and we’re learning to cope with our emotions rather than stuffing them, projecting them, or numbing them with substances, food, and sex. We’re exposing ourselves to the things we fear and having conversations we never thought we’d have the courage to.

It’s dark down here. Sometimes it feels raw, dirty, uncomfortable, and lonely. We’re tired, but no one else can do this work for us. We’re planting roots like a tree in the dead of winter. In a season where it is cold and a tree is stripped bare, exposed to the harsh elements, she is growing deeper roots to strengthen her for the calamity of next year’s winter. She is resilient and capable.

So, as we enter into the cooler months of autumn, may we be people that lean into darkness. May we accept these trying seasons with eyes fixed on growth, strengthening and endurance. May we be compassionate and gracious toward ourselves with the awareness that this is hard work, even if no one else can see it. May we find the process worthwhile and abandon our cookie cutter images of how things should be. May we not rush the process and be mindful of the present. May we reengage in our lives and not let it go by without our active participation. May grace surprise us kindly along the way and peace keep our hearts steady. Amen.

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