All that begins must end.
All that lives must die.
In this season of joyful abundance, it is also a season of goodbyes. As we begin to move into the dark half of the year, we say goodbye to the green season. We say goodbye to the dazzling Sun. Sleepy summer drifts into austere fall as we harvest and bank our stores against the looming cold ahead. We feast. We dance. We celebrate our good fortune. Yet, the wheat dies to become life-giving bread.
The spokes of the Wheel of the Year divide the eight seasons cleanly into feast days of sowing and reaping, of joy and sorry, of illumination and darkness. Life does not so cleanly divided these seasons of birth, death and rebirth in our personal experience.
The season of transformation is always within us and around us, but it is often hard to see the joy in sorrow and the life in death. The unborn child does not wish to leave his warm watery bed to be forced into the blinding glare of the cold wide world. Yet, look what astounding beauty awaits him. His fear and sorrow is our joy and delight. The snake cannot grow without shedding her old skin. The caterpillar must sacrifice her entire knowledge of self to gain the wider world of wings. The ocean stretches out, far reaching to the shore and slowly pulls away, only to reach out again. Those tides are within us too. We are a part of this transformation…not just witness to it. We seek, we find and kept or lost, we seek again. We die to our old selves and are born anew with every harvest of wisdom and beauty.
We empathize with how difficult it is to say good-bye to the familiar. For surely we all have been in the position of the man in the Taoist story who fell into the rapids of a river. He grabbed onto the safety of a rock amidst the rushing water. He was afraid of the unseen future of the river, whether there was a waterfall ahead or calm eddies. He clung to the rock until his fingers bled and his body was crushed against it by the battering current. Weary of the struggle, he found the courage to let go of the rock. He decided to ride the white water to its conclusion, what ever that might be. It doesn’t matter how the story ends because if we live long enough there will be both crashing waterfalls and calm eddies in our future. We will go from laughter to tears, from sacrifice to bounty, from simplicity to complexity and back to simplicity again. By saying goodbye to the familiar, we embrace the possibilities. Now, anything can happen. It’s more likely that it will be…interesting.
At this harvest season, we celebrate the smallest of blessings…a grain of wheat. We celebrate this by taking stock of what we have sown in ourselves. We are grateful for the gifts of kindred, nature and spirit that we feast on now, knowing that what we reap today will stay the coldest tomorrow. So, let us take joy in other small blessings; things that are warm, fresh, kind, thoughtful, gaudy, fragrant, furry, cool, soft, tasty, euphonious, sweet…
As the old Sun prepares for his journey to the Summerlands we begin to say goodbye to the light half of the year knowing that inevitable darkness will come. But not today. Today, we will celebrate the light not because of the darkness, but in spite of it. And that is the promise of the season…
All that ends, will begin again.
All that dies will live again.
© 2008 Ardriana Cahill.
Variation first published in the EW Newsletter, Lammas/Lughnassadh 2008. http://www.controverscial.com/