In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go.

With so much happening (the election, the confrontation of racial injustice, a worldwide pandemic), it would be easy to miss the subtle transition we are in.  But with the busy-ness of summer behind us, and despite all the craziness, a different pace is taking hold.

This time of year, with its decrease in natural daylight, can be very stressful for some.  But it can also be a wonderful time of renewal and deepened spiritual journeying. Short days and long nights beckon us to learn how to embrace the dark, even as we come into the light — be that the light of our woodstoves, fireplaces, or a few well placed candles! Fall and winter are great seasons in which to become intentional about reading good books, taking hot baths, and basking in plenty of holiday lights, which will soon begin to appear.

However we sustain ourselves throughout these next months, and they will no doubt bring us new challenges.  The fact remains: we live in, and are thus not immune from, the earth’s seasons and all that they would teach us.  And this season reminds me every year of what Mary Oliver writes in her poem — that, thankfully, the other side of the river of loss is salvation — a concept we may never fully comprehend, but one that urges us nonetheless to love what is mortal, to hold it against our bones, and when the time comes, to let go.

So, let us greet the long nights and make them welcome.  Let us work together to stave off the cold with the light of truth, the warmth of fellowship, and the fire of commitment.  Let us give thanks for, and hold against our bones, the gift that is this community and all who dwell within it.  And when we are met by salvation, however she may greet us, wherever she may greet us, may we be ready to make her welcome in darkness’ stead!

BIG Love,