Reflection: The Season of Autumn

by Fr. Kevin Canty, CM (National Director), published in AMM Bulletin Autumn 2024

I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity of spending two years –1984-5 in Boston in the US.  It was good to have had the opportunity of experiencing the seasons of the year in the northern hemisphere, especially Autumn. And I remember how a group of us travelled north into the state of Maine, where the Autumn colours were in a grand display. In the back yard of our house here in Ashfield, we have a beautiful tree that provides something of the Autumn colours that we can enjoy in parts of Australia. I have taken photos of the tree in each season. I believe the Blue Mountains are presently well worth visiting.  I remember a Spiritual Director’s Conference I attended in Hobart a few years ago.  Someone from the Tasmanian group, who lead the prayers and liturgies each day, provided in our opening prayer on the first day, a reflection entitled Listening to Autumn, from a book “The Circle of Life”. I found it an excellent reflection and was struck by the following few lines.

I am listening to the song of transformation, to the wisdom of the season, to the losses and the grieving, to the turning loose and letting go. I am listening to the surrender of autumn.

from “The Circle of Life” by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wierderkeh
Photo by Simon
Berger on UNSPALSH

But there was also a reference to the leaf that refused to let go.  And that image of the leaf not letting go stayed with me for some time.

So now, I offer you the following for reflection at this time.

O Falling leaves of Autumn, what mysteries of death you proclaim to my unwilling self. What eternal truths you disturb in the webbings of my protected heart. What wildness you evoke in the gusty dance of emptying winds. What mellow tenderness you bravely breathe in your required surrender.

Extract from a poem by Joyce Rupp

Some questions for us as we face this season of Autumn: What do we need to gather into our spiritual barns?   What in our lives needs to fall away like autumn leaves so another life waiting in the wings can have its turn to live?

This is the season that evokes nostalgia and pours longing into our human hearts.   Autumn speaks of connection and yearning, wisdom and aging, transformation and surrender emerging shadows, and most of all, mystery.  I have always remembered some words of a well-known spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, who stated: “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be entered into.”  In what way does this season of Autumn speak to me of the Mystery of Life in Christ that is continually being offered to me each day?

May Mary, our Mother, who so successfully entered into the mystery of her life and call from God, help us to respond to the mystery being played out in our lives each day.