It’s only a matter of time.
For the second time this season, spider mites have attacked my hanging baskets of flowers. The last time this happened, by the time I noticed the infestation, it was far advanced, and heroic measures were called for. So, I took down the baskets, told the plants that this was for their own good, and proceeded to prune them into oblivion. I ruthlessly cut back the flowers almost to the soil level, leaving only some stems behind. The cuttings were bagged and put in the trash.
The plants recovered brilliantly. Their root systems were strong, and it was only July. With a little extra care, they bounced back and bloomed again, looking as beautiful if not quite as lush as before. But this time… Well, this time will likely be the end.
It’s September now, nearly equinox. The balance shifts towards the darkness here in the northern hemisphere and with this shift come cool days and chilly nights. Frost hovers around the edges of the season, waiting for the moment of its arrival like a stage actress waits for her entrance cue.
It’s only a matter of time. The flowers will be done at first frost anyway, so there’s no time for another round of heroic measures. Besides, I don’t know if the plants are strong enough for it. So I just leave them be. I let them bloom away their remaining days. They won’t make it to frost.
Fall is nearly here, and here in northwest Pennsylvania, the first tips of tree branches begin to show the reds and oranges that are the harbingers of the coming season. Growing time has passed. The harvest and the dying are nearly here. This is reality. We soften it by reminding ourselves of the inevitability of spring, and the cycle of life, and this is all good. But it is not enough. We also need to face the reality illustrated so clearly by the flowers on my porch.
In our culture, we do a terrible job of facing the reality of death. We don’t talk about it. It’s just not polite. We don’t think about it. Too scary. Despite the proclamations of western religions that paradise awaits on the other side for the faithful, we do everything in our power to postpone it and keep ourselves out of that paradise for as long as possible. We make Faustian bargains with modern medicine, and end up with situations and conditions we never bargained for.
Autumn is a natural time to contemplate the reality of death. By looking it square in the face, and making peace with it (not quite befriending it) it is possible to reach a place of acceptance. A place of sacred letting go, where we release what we have gripped so tightly. The irony is that when we do, then we emerge into a new state of consciousness of the Sacred in every moment of life. We have awakened just a little bit more.
The flowers on my porch won’t make it too much longer. But I will treasure every bloom.
Equinox is nearly here. Blessings of the Sacred found in every moment, blessings of this season to you.
Photo Credit: flickr user Sean Rogers1 at http://www.creativecommons.org/