September; beginning of fall and time of transition from the activities of summer to the stillness of winter.
Time for nature to die to its outward expression and move back into its own depth to rejuvenate and gather strength.
Time for kids (and the adults connected to them) to return to the rhythms and regularity of school schedules and after school activities.
Time for animals and humans whose work connects them to the land to gather in the harvest and prepare for the resting period of winter.
Fall is a busy time — and times of transition often are. They ask us to be actively involved in life. They require us to look at what is present in our lives, to decide what we want to keep and nourish and what we need to let go. They offer us the opportunity to prepare for what is coming, to build foundations, to choose how the next phase of life is going to be started. But most of all, transition periods ask us to be conscious participants in the changes that are happening in our lives.
Many of us are afraid of change. We fear the new and unknown that is coming, the life we don’t know or understand — yet. Times of transition are our opportunity to move through change calmly and without fear. They give us an opportunity to be actively involved in the way change happens in our lives. They keep us engaged and in control. They keep us connected to the very life that is changing right under our hands and feet.
Some transitions are more reminiscent of fall and harvest time. They ask us to gather, cherish, make uses of what we have done, learned, and received in life so far. They ask us to sit back and reflect, to plan for the future and then to withdraw from life for a while to let things settle, to heal, and to replenish ourselves. Dying is such a time of transition, for the one who is dying as much as for those who are close to him or her.
Being able to navigate the transition of a loved one from life into death is a great gift, although most often an uncomfortable and rarely a desired one. Of course the circumstances of the dying process influence how we handle this transition. Pain levels, levels of awareness and consciousness, care needs, timeframes given to us– all of those change how we react to and act in this transition.
But not unlike the harvest in fall, this is a time to gather — memories, loved ones, cherished moments, etc. It is a time to reflect on the life we had together and to let go of things that hold us back or down. And it is a time to prepare for the time after. For the person dying that may mean asking for spiritual support, making amends for anything that is weighing on the mind, saying one’s good-byes, or putting one’s affairs in order. For those who are living with the dying person it may include all those things — and also beginning to prepare mentally and emotionally for the time after his or her death.
The second big transition time in nature is spring, the time moving us from the stillness of winter into the busy-ness of summer. Life transitions that are reminiscent of spring include all kinds of new beginnings: starting school or university; changing careers; retirement; marriage, the birth of children, moving to a new city, buying a home, etc.
Although those are often positive and even happily anticipated situations, they still can induce anxiety. Like nature in spring, we can prepare for the new life to a certain degree. We can prepare ourselves for what we hope for, plan the anticipated future, and seed new behaviours, beliefs, and patterns. But the ultimate success depends on our ability to let go of attachments of having things turn out perfectly as planned. Nature is a great teacher in that respect. She spreads her seeds wide and far, prepares the soil as best possible — and then deals with whatever grows up and in whatever way it does.
Transition periods in life aren’t always about big changes. There are smaller transitions that happen almost every day: we start to implement something we just learned; we are making a change in eating patterns or the route we take to work; we buy a new car; we adapt to changed weight or health conditions. Life is constantly changing and we are in a perpetual state of transition. Nothing ever stays the same and that is good so.
Learning to focus on the bigger changes in life through the process of transitioning can be the tool that helps us reduce anxiety and embrace the new opportunities that are presenting themselves to us. Sometimes that requires hard work, sometimes it requires us to hold back and be still. Sometimes it encourages us to plan, at other times it needs us to accept what is presented. But always it asks us to become conscious and participate in our life — and that is a positive change whenever it occurs.