in this glorious season of grief

Where I'm writing from - southeastern Pennsylvania, USA - we are heading into fall, with all the picturesque scenes and smells typical for this time of year.

As the light changes, and the warmth of summer slips away, unfulfilled plans, hopes and dreams are laid to rest, at least until next year.

We return from the fields (metaphorically, I mean) to find shelter and hopefully, a stocked pantry; hearts and minds part ways to tend to the home fires, retreating within for the winter - if not in our modern reality, then surely in our ancestral memory.

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In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the season of grief and melancholy.

Can't you just feel that?

Metal is the elemental manifestation of Fall, and indeed, grief can cut cold and sharp like a blade, taking our breath away; the sting giving way to hang heavy and dull around the chest like lead.

There is much to grieve now, it seems - so many in our human family dealing with natural and manmade tragedies, in addition to the disconnection, angst and personal dramas we all seem to share, as we attempt to navigate the bewildering experience of globalization.

Our circle of relations can now virtually include eight billion lives.

How utterly overwhelming for our single, tender hearts.

The Metal element - also characterized as a brilliant, reflective diamond, and as part of the larger Elemental family - is tempered by its grandmother, Fire, the element of the Heart and relationships and one's spiritual purpose.

To feel the pain of loss means that we have experienced our divine capacity to love, which we always possess - it's only the object of that affection that we may have lost our connection to for a time. This may be helpful to consider when we feel as though we could never open our hearts again.

The Lungs, vulnerable to the energy of sadness, can easily harbor maladies of stagnation if we cannot allow grief to take its course, or even begin the process.

It's not always easy, I know.

But, to breathe fully is to allow for ongoing, unceasing interchange between our external world and our inner sanctum.

It's an embrace and admission of our own vulnerability, and our dependence on the world around us - try as we might to control that exchange, we do not live a full and healthy life without oxygen.

So .... breathe deeply.

Feel the chill of Autumn in your chest, your own heat transforming the air within your lungs to life-giving Qi ... then, release your exhale with a sigh, a shudder, or a sob, if you feel the need.

Letting go (when it's time - rushing the breath will not serve the process) will allow room for the next inhale, the next insight, plan or connection.

We are a life and love in process, a permeable organism that the world passes through, leaving its imprint on our hearts. The skin is our physical boundary, but it can become a cold, sterile border if we totally close ourselves off from the messiness of human being-ness and the very real likelihood of feeling grief.

This too shall pass, it is said.

In the meantime, open wide, take in the glory and fullness and nostalgia of Autumn.

Celebrate the capacity for love and interdependence, even as we accept that the landscape will change, and dreams and gardens and souls go back to their source to rest under the snows of Winter, eventually to transform into something new.

Let grief and loss and sadness pass through your pores - feel it all and appreciate it as a reminder of your warm, loving, summertime heart.

To be continued...