10-01-2014 | Lindsay

Three nights ago, according to the planets and the stars, autumn began. For those of us walking through the forest to the Retreat House or splitting wood beside Homestead, the season's edges are less defined. For days and days the trees have stood green and glowing, suffused with shimmering sunlight as the air blows alternately warm and cool around them. Then a crimson leaf appears on the path to the front door and the maple and buckeye next to Homestead are tinged red and yellow. The scruffy, molting cardinals are shaking off their summer plumage, replacing feathers to stem winter's chill. Second by second, dark cloaks the earth earlier each night; songbirds are departing; we hunt in our closets for sweaters and quilts. All around, here and there, incremental but persistent change is happening.

It's at these times of disequilibrium when the spirit and heart seem vulnerable. In the fullness of the summer or stillness of winter, things appear stable, enduring...but when the trees turn color and whole communities of wild things depart or go to earth, everything is up for grabs. It's unsettling.

This afternoon I was editing the letter we plan to send to selected supporters asking for money to help bridge our community's transition from former ways of living here. The letter is in its fifth iteration by now. One line leapt out at me, in the next to last paragraph, a sort of summary statement. It reads, "It is a fragile time." That does about sum it up.

There's been the satisfaction of creating home, for sure; and the exhilaration of recharged friendships and strengthening bonds; fun times of barbeques and dancing and laughter. Also the harrowing prospects of looking for paid employment; the onset of fatigue and illness; the violated feel of a vandalized retreat house, the abandonment of some of our hopes and expectations.

One thing I've noticed about these times of relentless, disquieting change is that they do shake us up, and break us open. And when that happens, the possibilities are immense and fathomless.

Two nights ago, Billy and I walked down the lane from Woodhaven, heading back to Pinestone. The night was velvet dark, the stars tiny pinpricks of light, the trees and shrubs and sheds all sunk behind an obsidian curtain. It would soon be the dark of the moon, when there is no solar reflection, and the lunar face is in darkness. The time when, as Billy pointed out, the slaves would run, trusting the dark to shield them. Traditionally, the dark of the moon is known as an interior time, when there is often a pull of psychic energy inward, toward the deeper self. In olden days during the dark of the moon women would gather in the menstruation tent to draw strength from the powerful interior collective energy afoot. It is a deep soul time for men and women alike, and also a time of risk and hope.

I've had a chance to preview the materials that Jim and Cheryl are preparing for those who are participating in the Sacred Fire retreat a few weeks from now. They are sending out a sheet of quotations for us to consider. One is very short, from Johanna Macy:

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.

I've only begun to puzzle out what Johanna is talking about, but I think it has something to do with grace, with the proposition that unsettled, fragile, change-riddled seasons like the one we are now in are also the times of deepest expansion and, in fact, wonder. That when we are cracked open, and the green energy drains from our leaves, we are also peculiarly resilient, and we discover deep inward roots down there in the dark. Then whole universes of connections and possibilities unveil themselves. So, welcome autumn with its so very visible changes, lengthening nights, and blessed unease.

This morning, the mist rolled in.

Based on a reflection shared at community meal last Thursday (September 25, 2014)