Fall Cleanup

There is so much I love about Fall – my birthday, Mudita’s anniversary, the colors, the sounds, the light.  Yet, the moment the first leaf falls to the ground, the complaining begins.  Rather than what I love about Fall, you will about ‘all the leaves’, the ‘never ending bags’, ‘the work’.  It is hard to hear the love behind all the petulant words.

So here I am again, in the midst of Fall and hardly enjoying it as my focus is on my never ending yard, leaf cleanup.  More work to do.  I wish, hope, for a windy day so that I can take the day off of raking. That hope became a begging, I ask random people ‘ do you think it is too windy to rake leaves?’  Seriously, this is all consuming in my head. 

One Monday, something shifted.  It was windy, yes.  In spite of that, I thought ‘I will go see what I can get done’.  No complaining; no asking for a way out; no letting anyone know I was raking once again.  No corroboration of my unwillingness.

The raking began as it has so many other days, yet something inside me was changed, my color was new.  In that moment, on that day, I began to feel the power of Fall, all that it was offering me.  As I was present for the many yard tasks, an amazing clarity arose.  I realized the root of my irritability.  Though I love Fall, it is a challenging season for me. It asks me, calls to me daily, to let go.  This offering to let go is right in front of me, cannot be hidden away, or even blown away.  I want to hide, and Fall calls me to awaken. 

That day, that incredibly fulfilling Fall day, I began to embrace its offering more fully than I ever have.  I had a face to face with my fears, got up close and personal with my resistance to letting go.  The no longer blooming flowers brought me clarity.  I am challenged to let go of them, challenged to let go of the joy they brought me.  Most years I do not cut them down all the way.  It will be a long time before new growth arises.  Selfishly I need them to remain.  I realized I was causing my beloved flowers to suffer by not giving them the rest they needed.   They are ready to grow inward and by keeping their outward growth it becomes a more difficult task.  Yet, I hold on to those parts that are wilted, no longer growing.   Something inside me feels it cannot endure the exposed, bare garden;  cannot endure the stripped ground which  reminds me of my own vulnerability, my nakedness that I try to cover.

 The crispness of the day, brought forth a freshness in my awareness.  This resistance to fully letting go happens in all levels with my life – with people, events, things.  As I looked into the unprotected parts of me, it appeared there was very little that I had really let go of.  I hold and grip around the upward, outward growth.  I am wanting that which has faded, that which is complete, to remain.  I let go a little, leaving some little thing to hold on to.  Wow! There are very few ways that I let go, cut down to roots that which is ready to be released.  I realized the roots are what inform me of the lessons learned, how to act more skillfully in the world, how to be more authentically me. 

Every so often, on that profoundly amazing Fall day, the wind blew new leaves on my just raked lawn, cleaned flower bed, swept walk.  I chuckled, recalling past frustrations.  On that day I realized, Fall is just being Fall.  Doing what Fall does, guiding us to participate in the messiness of surrender.  Not neatly packaged, but unabashedly releasing.  Rather than the seeming irreverence, it humbly shows us the beauty and completeness of the moment.  Leaves falling here and there, when the time is ripe for that falling. Instead of my usual stance of head down, I gazed upward.  I watched as the leaves delicately left the place they felt so secure, the place where their purpose was to bring shelter, shade, cover.  As they released from the tree they danced gracefully in the wind.  Falling to the ground with the utmost ease, they were ready to move on, to find their new purpose.  Like the leaves, my release would lead me toward my new purpose, into the new layers, new textures of my life. 

That day was so glorious, my heart could hardly be contained.  A part of me wanted to hold on to it, this newfound peace, to figure out the exact circumstances so I could recreate it again.  I chuckled again.  I looked around the yard, at the trees bare to the bone, at the surrendered leaves, at the cut down flowers, plants, at the blue open sky.  It was very clear, I was the one out of place.  All of nature, in that moment, called to me to join them.  Another leaf let go into the wind.  In that moment, on that most precious day, I felt a new beckoning from Fall – ‘join me, release, give in to the wind, to the moment. That is when the colors, the sky, the world are most brilliant. That is when you are most brilliant.’ In that moment, on that Fall day, just like the leaves, I fell. 

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