Tuesday, 23 October 2012

October - Summer's end & the gateway to winter

The world changes as October unfolds its mysteries. Seven o' clock in the morning and seven o'clock in the evening are both equally dark. We rise from sleep and wonder if it is still the night before. And under the shelter of woodland trees it seems never to grow light at any point in the day. We take a step back in time at the end of the month as we put back the clocks by one hour - lighter in the mornings for a while, but darker in the afternoons.

But at the same time the trees are bursting into flames of copper-red and apple-yellow, showing us a miracle which, even though we have seen it before, still turns our head as we wonder where these hues have come from. There is a sense in October of a world which we don't quite recognise.

Before the coming of electricity, this was a time to close down for the winter. For the ancient Celtic peoples, the end of October was the end of the old year, the new year beginning with the festival of Samhain on the 1st of November. As the new year dawned there was a sense of two worlds drawing together: that which had been and that which was yet to come meeting for a short time in the present. It was this time of year that the Christian Church made 1st November All Saints' Day and the following day All Souls' Day, when it was believed that our world and the next were brought together.

But we are always leaving behind the old and entering the new. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a right time for each event in life - the season for one thing passes and a new moment comes along. The change of the seasons beckons us to a new stage of life.

The deepening of autumn into winter is an invitation to contemplation and silence. In this season, there is the opportunity for God, the Other, to call to us and to break into our awareness. It may be the a spider's web syrupy with dew that does this, or the russet blaze of the beech tree, or the chill blanket of the fog muffling all sound into silence.

October's autumn offers a doorway into a world which is far greater than the one which is visible, and the chance to hear a voice saying to us: All is sacred.

Follow me by email