Autumn Equinox 2021
The Autumn Equinox falls on September 22nd this year. In that moment the sun will be directly over the equator and both the day and the night will be equal in length. I had to look that up. I don’t know about you, but I had never really thought much about it, I just assumed someone, somewhere knew where to put that date on the calendar each year. After the 22nd the days will darken and shorten until we get to the Winter Solstice which holds the longest night of the year.
It’s hard to believe we are already at Fall of 2021. I hear so many people commenting “where did the time go?” and “how is it already September?”. The pandemic seems to have made our lives a blur of unpredictability on top of our already busy lives.
And yet, the seasons are right on time.
The sun rises and sets and God has not lost control.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking lately how we notice time, how we mark it, and how the actual seasons influence us.
And perhaps the seasons changing are a good time to remind ourselves.
I grew up in New England where the weather turned cool right about the start of the new school year and walking to school meant stiff new shoes, soft sweaters and falling leaves. The air was cooler, and my pencils were sharp. Ever since then Fall for me has felt more like a fresh beginning than January 1st.
As an adult it feels harder to stay in touch with the seasons. Sometimes it feels like I go from home to office and back again, in my temperature controlled car and fresh air is something set aside for weekends if there is time.
I think it’s time to put our feet back on the ground. Literally. I think we need to notice the warmth and the cold, the softness of the forest ground and the smell of the earth after a rain. I think we need to see and feel and smell the changing seasons as a way of reminding ourselves that we aren’t robots. Our five senses are powerful gifts and the secret of slowing down time is in being present and noticing.
This doesn’t mean another thing on your list, but simply a posture of being present and aware. Take your morning coffee outside on the deck to watch the sunrise. Feel the air, notice the steam coming from your cup. Leave your phone in the house. Walk outside in different temperatures, and even in the rain.
As we fast approach the ending of 2021, I don’t want to wonder where the time has gone. I don’t want to move from summer to it suddenly being winter, and I can’t remember how I got there. Like when you drive a familiar path and surprise yourself when you get to your destination, having no actual recall of driving.
I want to notice.
The seasons changing anchors us physically and mentally. It reminds us that God is present and giving us gifts every day- but we need to open the gift.
As a way of noticing the changing of the season, I’ll share some things I’m doing intentionally between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice.
3 Books I’m reading this Fall
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May-
I was drawn to this book for how neatly it fell into my current thoughts and season. Each chapter is broken up between September and March and this felt like a good grounding point for reflection. Here is a quote I underlined from the September reading:
“There are gaps in the mesh of everyday world, and sometimes they open up and you fall through them into Somewhere Else. Somewhere Else runs at a different pace to the here and now, where everyone else carries on.”
Hope Anyway by Leanna Tankersley-
This book just recently came out and I’ve already read the entire thing. There was so much encouragement and peace in reading this. I’ve highlighted sections and now I’ll be processing and journaling my thoughts on this book.
Pray Confidently and Consistently by Valerie Woerner-
This book is releasing October 12th and I’m excited for it. I’ve been doing Valerie’s course on Prayer and it’s been so helpful and encouraging. I also use a prayer journal that she sells and the format is so practical in keeping prayer requests organized.
The Simple Difference by Becky Keife-
This book releases October 5th and I have been trying to embrace the idea of small things making a big difference. I think this really matters- that we see people and serve in small ways with sincerity. I’m looking forward to recognizing new ways of doing this.
Paying attention to all 5 senses this Fall
How often have you considered all 5 of your actual senses? It’s a fun way to consider things to do to mark the changing of the season. Try to incorporate all of your senses!
Taste- prepare a fall soup, eat apples, make chili….what is the food that reminds your of Fall?
Smell– Anything with cinnamon, the cool forest air, leaves decaying, woodsmoke
See– the glorious colors of fall, sunrise and sunset, pumpkins, beautifully set tables for family meals, candles lit
Touch– a soft blanket, cool morning air, hot coffee cups, sitting by a campfire
Hear– The quiet, children’s laughter at a pumpkin patch, crunching leaves when you walk
Things to do in this season
Walk outside on a cool morning. Don’t bring your phone (or, at least, put it on do not disturb and leave it in your pocket). Just walk. Listen to your own heart. Notice the things around you. Pray. Listen some more. Write down what the Lord whispers to your heart.
Prepare ahead for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Look at your budget, recipes and plans. Consider gifts from the heart. Shop amazon early since shipping is weird and things are delayed, or, even better, shop local with small businesses. Be intentional and thoughtful and don’t set yourself up for stress by waiting too long, or not knowing what to do.
Bake pumpkin muffins or apple crisp and give it away. There is so much joy in this simple activity. Bake a fall dish and double it- one for your family and then just give the other one away. We can all think of someone in our lives who would be blessed by this simple act.
Buy and use automative light electric candles. Really and truly. Have you done this yet? I have several electric candles and, automatically around 6:00 pm every evening, they turn on and then turn off around 8:00pm. It quiets the atmosphere and makes things feel cozy, warm and inviting. I love how it happens automatically and there is no fire risk, so I don’t have to remember to blow anything out before bed.
Thoughts to consider
Let’s go into Autumn with some awareness of how we are feeling. Practice naming it, and then just slowing consider it. Don’t rush. Write it down, connecting your brain to paper.
Are you feeling calm, stressed, lonely, disconnected? Sometimes we are so busy with our lists that we don’t slow down enough to name what we are feeling. Or even to actually feel it.Maybe on a subconscious level we are trying to avoid the possible discomfort that might bring.
So, just practice noticing and naming it. Don’t try to fix it right away. Just sit with it.
Thanksgiving and Christmas do not need to look the same each year. Consider your needs, your family stage, your health and decide which traditions are most important. Maybe even consider something new. Invite a neighbor to join you, or bring a dish to someone. Visit with the elderly. Buy your coffee and pay it forward by paying for the car behind you.
Make plans and hold them loosely, looking for opportunities to bless others or for the Lord to direct you in other ways. Notice Him working in your life and notice the tapestry unfolding before us. Pray that the Lord would help you to notice. Look for the ways to be a blessing and to serve. Notice your feet on the ground and the world around you.
Jesus gave us an example of how important it was to get away with the Father. Jesus did this regularly and I think it’s a practice that we can emulate.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35
What did Jesus hear in those moments? What did the Father whisper into his heart? We don’t know that part, but I can only imagine how centering it was to get away and spend time in the presence of God. If Jesus needed it, how much more must we need it?
Let’s spend Autumn doing that- getting away for a few moments in the presence of God and along the way notice the things around us and what the Father whispers into our hearts.