The autumn equinox on 22 September is one of two days in the year when almost the whole planet experiences a roughly equal day and night. It brings us into that beautiful transitional season of autumn. There is a noticeable shift in the weather. The nights get longer and the air begins to cool. The leaves change colour and trees begin to shed their leaves. Autumn is at once a season of harvest and celebrating abundance and of growing darkness and apparent death.
Autumn, a season of light and darkness, of transition and letting go, reminds us that everything is transitory and nothing is permanent. There is so much to learn from this season if we stop and reflect.
The equinox calls us to reflect on balance in our lives. It invites us to ponder that which is bright and that which is shadow. If we look around us today we might see a lot of the shadow – the destructive trails of hurricanes, the devastation of earthquakes, the threat of war, economic uncertainty and so much more. But as cooler weather brings us to wrap ourselves in warm clothing, we are reminded that we are wrapped always in the cloak of God. The changing colours and falling of leaves remind us of the importance of change and letting go. This is a time to look inward and introspect. It is time also a time to look ahead.
This week the Jewish community and the Islamic community celebrate their respective new years. The Jews celebrate Rosh Hashana and the Muslims celebrate Al-Hijra. Rosh Hashana celebrates God as the creator of the universe and especially the creation of Adam and Eve. Al-Hijra is the first day of the Islamic month of Muharram and Muslims celebrate this day as the beginning of Islam as a community inspired by God, obedient to God and bound together by faith. Both celebrations remind all of us to acknowledge God as creator of the universe, to value the community of faith to which we belong and to recommit ourselves to the care of our neighbour.
So, at the beginning of this autumn, let our prayer be:
May the angels of light glisten for us this day.
May the sparks of God’s beauty dance in the eyes of those we love.
May the universe be on fire with Presence for us this day.
May the new sun’s rising grace us with gratitude.
Let earth’s greenness shine
and its waters breathe with Spirit.
Let heaven’s winds stir the soil of our soul
and fresh awakenings rise within us.
May the mighty angels of light glisten in all things this day.
May they summon us to reverence,
may they call us to life.
(Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace, J. P. Newell)
SIGNIFICANT DAYS THIS WEEK: Rosh Hashana (Sept 20); St Matthew (Sept 21); International Day of Peace (Sept 21); Islamic New Year (Sept 21); Autumn Equinox (Sept 22); Padre Pio (Sept 23)
READ: The Spirituality of the Autumn Equinox
WATCH: Relax with the music of Vivaldi’s Autumn
CONSIDER: Pray the Autumn Blessing by Joyce Rupp