This year, autumn has been slow to arrive in the Midwest. It is mid-October and still feels like September. Trees have barely begun to change and the grass remains green and in need of cutting. Again.
This slow, leisurely change reminds me that all changes have their own natural timing. In his work with grief and loss, Dr. Alan Wolfelt says there are no rewards for speed. We cannot hurry our own natural processes of experiencing and mourning significant life losses. Each person travels through the journey with a timing all their own. There are many different paths to mourning, comfort, and the return of resilience. Recognizing change as a process gives me permission to be in it differently—to stay open and wait even when it seems as if nothing is happening.
Change is everywhere
Changes are ever-present in our lives. They don’t come along just as the loss of a loved one through death. Change arrives in the shape of little things such as the need to reschedule a meeting or in the bigger things such as a cancer diagnosis. Changes happen when a new supervisor arrives on the scene, when job responsibilities shift, when a child leaves home to attend college. Changes and losses ripple across our lives leaving us feeling unprepared, abandoned or worried about what the next change will bring.
These are just the times when I look to the seasons for inspiration. On my walk this morning I noticed the spent gardens. I saw the subtle hint of autumn in trees beginning to turn from green to gold. I observed that even the cool morning air itself felt different—tinged with something a bit crisper than just a week ago.
And, as I looked around me at the unfolding of summer to fall, I noticed the seeds of the future.
Hollyhock, marigolds, even the vegetables hold seeds for the next summer season. In dying back for the winter seeds are a storehouse of resilience. Seeds are all around us; the seeds within the loss that represent the new unknown hidden inside.
The seeds remind me to be expectant, curious, patient in the waiting—for something new is coming my way. Seeds dry on my kitchen counter from my favorite zucchini, butternut squash purchased at the farmers market; marigolds and hollyhocks. I will share little packets of seeds with friends—spreading them near and far for growing in other gardens. In saving and sharing them I am planting something new; an anticipated future.