Monday, November 25, 2013
This is the time of year when we heal our souls, the transition time when the seasons change and we come face to face with mortality.
The chill air came rushing in with a gush over the last few days, making me shudder even under the thick covers in bed.
This has always been the safe place for me, even as a kid growing up in a house of rage and madness.
I went to sleep by relaxing every muscle in my body one inch at a time, a technique I later discovered was a kind of meditation.
I still use it, trying to bypass the conscious barrier with its early morning panic to get to that stream of consciousness to which everybody contributes, drawing from it strength, knowledge and wisdom I do not possess for myself.
Sometimes, I curl up in a yoga stance, my face against the mattress, my arms down at my side, my belly bent over my knees as my back gradually gives up the weight of a week’s worth of worry – so when I straighten again, each muscle eases and I ease into sleep or some self-induced sense of peace.
This always worked best in colder months as a kid because with a quilt over me, I felt less vulnerable, my little tent against raging storms beyond.
This still works for me all these years later, as I resist the greater tensions of the world beyond the walls of my house, the darkness that does not come with changing seasons, but from some deep illness in our souls.
The leaves that had clung precariously to the trees behind the house – a gold and red wonderland – have fallen into heaps in my back yard, a patched quilt that snow shall soon cover over, but looking down on, has its own magical quality I treasure for those moments when it lasts.
These leaves crunch under my footsteps as I make my way to the shed for the seed to fill the bird feeder, a ritual that will become regular over the cold months, and then cease until this time next year.
As a city kid growing up in Paterson, I always longed for that middle class life that people always showed us on TV, where kids rushed through piles of leaves and teens took hayrides.
Having a yard like mine sort of gives me a little of that, and the sense of change that is often missed in places with few trees.
I suppose I need to have some visible indication of change externally, when dramatic changes occur in me.
My favorite English professor in college said I would change my mind about loving autumn when I got to be her age and had to stare down into the jaws of death and realize that’s what autumn is – dying.
She was wrong. I still love this moment in time, perhaps because I still believe that there is a spring that will follow it, and though I might be a totally different person when it comes, I believe wholeheartedly, it will come and I will be there to greet it and the green it brings, and I will remain to see those leaves change to gold and red, and to watch them flutter to the ground so that they may crunch under my footsteps when I go out to feed the birds.
This is life, and it is good – no matter what else happens.