Paula Kaiman takes us on a beautiful guided tour through her little corner of the natural world and the wonders of autumn there in this video below.
Lay Pastor Dawn Hancy shares an Autumn Equinox/Rosh Hashana reflection following the video.
These are excerpts from our September 20, 2020 online Sunday service. To participate in future Sunday services on Zoom, subscribe to our newsletter on our homepage, www.visionoflight.org, and you'll also receive the connecting information.
This is a powerful time!
From the New Moon in Virgo last Thursday, now a crescent,
to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday that started on Friday,
and Autumn Equinox or Mabon, its Celtic name, coming Tuesday.
Celebrating the summer as we’ve been able to enjoy it,
and preparing for the coming darkness.
Mindful of this moment in the liminal space between,
where the Wheel of the Year seems to pause
to give us time to reflect, to listen, gather in.
This is a harvest festival,
one of the greatest of the season with so many crops ripening,
so much abundance for so many,
but not for all.
With our deep gratitude and the sacred ecstasy of a full belly
and so many other blessings in our lives,
we’re also mindful of the ongoing suffering, struggles,
grieving and loss in this same moment.
As Spiritualists, we know that life is not linear,
there is not simply an end, or even a single point of beginning,
but like the seasons of Earth,
the seasons of our soul’s life continue to turn,
again and again but never quite the same.
We can reach across even that threshold of death
to communicate with those who have crossed over.
We can be in both worlds.
Equinox represents that moment of balance
between two worlds,
holding the dichotomy of suffering and celebration,
gratitude for having survived the last six months,
with concern for the next six and beyond.
We don’t have to choose.
They are both real
and we can expand to hold them both in our hearts, minds and bodies
Let’s use our breath now to expand our capacity to hold these paradoxes.
Maybe even stretch a bit to really increase the flow of energy
in our bodies and minds.
In this moment we can see ourselves at a crossroads,
or a still center point among all the swirling currents,
the past and future,
known and unknown,
happiness and sadness,
and know that we are both and all,
and in this moment perhaps belonging to none,
just being here in this calm space between all things
in perfect balance,
which doesn’t have to be the rigid balance of holding perfectly still.
It’s more of a dynamic equilibrium,
shifting a little this way and that,
like riding a bike,
making adjustments and course corrections as we go,
even in this moment.
It’s the perpetual movement of our breathing,
in and out,
yet finding a settled sense of stillness within ourselves somewhere.
Maybe it’s feeling our thoughts slow and soften,
noticing the Sun or breeze on our skin
or the warmth of our cup of tea or coffee,
the fur of our four-legged loved ones,
gently slowing down to that stillness,
coming in for a gentle landing.
The more we practice this, the easier it becomes
and it helps us to make peace with the quiet that can seem lonely
when we’re so separated and isolated.
The practice of finding stillness
can help us release the guilt and pressure of feeling
like we need to always be busy and productive;
can help us hear our body’s subtle signals
so we increase our self-care before we get sick;
can help us cultivate compassion for others
who are also lonely,
who are also struggling, or busy, or bored -
compassion for ourselves as we practice finding the stillness,
or not finding it, which will also happen, and it’s okay.
Knowing it’s the time of Equinox can give us permission to pause
in a way we might not otherwise,
to make the stillness more sacred,
to listen into the Earth and Her turning body,
dancing with the Sun and Moon.
What is our busy-ness compared with that?
Celebration doesn’t always have to be big and boisterous -
but it can be!
It can be bringing in the harvest
of corn or pumpkins or hemp or barley together
or a Zoom potluck with family and friends,
sharing recipes if not actual dishes.
This is also the time of the Jewish Rosh Hashanah,
a joyful celebration
when the Book of Life is opened and the people have 10 days
to reflect, to make amends and to atone for transgressions
by asking for Divine forgiveness.
The chance for us to make things right is cause for celebration!
Guilt and shame don’t make things right -
compassionate action does.
We must be willing and able to forgive ourselves
if we expect others to forgive us,
including God, Goddess or Spirit.
We can talk more about forgiveness and atonement
next week as Rosh Hashanah closes and Yom Kippur begins,
a much more solemn time in the Jewish year.
Let’s look at this Autumn Equinox as a moment when we pause, shift,
and begin to mindfully prepare for the next six months,
which hold so many unknowns, both fearful and promising -
Will there be a vaccine or treatment emerging
to reduce the suffering of those afflicted with COVID-19?
Will there be more civil unrest, even violence,
around the election, inauguration and beyond?
Can people adjust to this new way of life,
even for a little while longer?
Can we go on with our work, our studies, our celebrations,
in some modified fashion or even find better new ways to live?
We don’t need to know now the answers to those questions,
but we can work in that stillness within,
from that place between,
to shore up the systems we know we’ll need to get us through this winter.
We can reach out to friends and family to strengthen those relationships
before the holiday season coming at the end of the year,
even before the cold and darkness of winter really begin to deepen.
We can give ourselves lots of nourishment and care
in every way we can possibly think of,
from taking a walk
to drinking healthy herbal teas
to getting out the art supplies and letting loose our creativity
to singing out loud
or writing out our bucket list,
listening to favorite music,
writing affirmations of kindness to ourselves,
enjoying a hot bath -
whatever makes you feel good, healthy and strong.
Go for it!
Now is not the time to skimp on self-care.
We’re going to need all the resilience we can muster
to handle this season gracefully,
and that is the goal I’d like to suggest.
Not just to survive it, but to thrive.
We can do it if we help each other.
We can exchange email addresses and phone numbers in the chat
and check in with each other during the week.
We can reach out and call folks who aren’t comfortable joining us on Zoom.
We can post and comment in the Facebook group on any spiritual topic,
and share resources that are uplifting and supportive.
We can spend time in meditation and prayer, asking for support and guidance,
knowing it will come, even if it’s not always in the form we expect,
so be vigilant and welcome whatever blessings arise.
Like the tree in this photo,
we stand with one foot in the darkness and one foot in the light.
And we can embrace them both.
The darkness can be a welcome respite from busy-ness and brightness
just as the light can bring new clarity and vision.
The darkness can feel protective and sheltering,
and the light can feel uplifting and inspiring.
New things grow and germinate and gestate in the darkness
and come to maturity and blossom in the light.
It’s not a conflict, but a dance the seasons do,
and that we do through the seasons.
Rhythms and changing steps keep our lives lively,
save us from monotonous routine,
help us keep moving forward.
It’s okay to balk for a moment as the summer fades and autumn approaches
- I do! -
but then we continue to be carried on
through the changing of the leaves and the beautiful landscape,
the delicious foods beginning to be harvested
that only come in fresh at this time,
the cozy sweaters and blankets
that emerge from the closet and cedar chest,
hot cocoa and warm cider
that just aren’t any fun in July.
To honor Rosh Hashanah we can enjoy apples and honey,
a treat at any time!
We can immerse ourselves in gratitude for the abundance of resources
in our rural state of Vermont, and wherever you may be tuning in from.
And we can offer the prayer that everyone may be so blessed
as we are in so many ways,
and open our hearts and minds and hands to the ways that will make it so.
There is so much we can do.
There is so much good work to do, and to support others doing,
we don’t ever need to feel aimless or useless.
We are all needed and we can all contribute,
whether through financial support to helping organizations,
a phone call with words of kindness,
or actually going out and working a front line job or
volunteering at Willing Hands or another organization,
and even with prayer, which I believe is never wasted.
Thank you for all you do, and I know it is so much,
and so deeply appreciated.
Thank you for being who you are,
and please know how much you are valued here in this circle.
Please reach out if you need help or if you can help,
for both giving and receiving are sacred.
We’re all in this together,
and we can emerge from this pause of stillness
revitalized and ready to go forward
into the rest of the harvest season and beyond.
Thank you and blessed be.