My favorite season draws me into a melancholy mood this year. Leaves fall steadily, going to ground, letting go of life in a blaze of color. I breathe in their sweet, musty scent as they decompose. New England’s autumn nights grow longer and chillier. I sleep deeply, needfully. The morning sun rises with portent more than hope.
I am turning. Turning from illusion to truth, from wishes to reality, from high ideals to dark ground.
Try as I may, I cannot separate the personal from the political. There is no “me” and “them,” only us. I inhabit my community, nation, and the world and they inhabit me. I am not merely in the world because in every way I am of the world too.
The heaviness of the world is too much with me right now: The killing pandemic, failing economy, divisive politics, hate and violence, and a changing climate. Yet the daily routine of housework, meals and cooking, yard work, dog walking, playing music, reading, watching movies, Friday night pizza, gathering around the dinner table, and family Zoom calls sustain me. My service and advocacy work in the homeless community give me purpose. Daily conversations with my spouse and a good-night hug deepen my love. My early morning writing, reflection, feeding the birds, and coffee ground me in spiritual practice.
I’d like to ask, Where do we go from here? But I’m not sure where here is. So much is changing, uncertain, and fearful. Do I still believe in human potential and perfectibility? Or have I been wrong all this time? Do I still believe we humans are created in blessing and evolving toward pure love and compassion? Or am I foolish and naive? Does the God I believe in continue to work through us in creative and life-sustaining ways? Or am I missing something?
I am a person of faith. I am equally a person of doubt. Each has its place in the life of the spirit. Each must be honored. Each turns toward the other.
I turn with the changing seasons, I turn with the troubles of the world, I turn with the quiet song of my soul, “Till by turning, turning, we come ‘round right,” in the words of the old Shaker tune. And, for me, that is faith enough.
Photo: Connecticut College Arboretum, New London, Conn.