Autumn colors have settled
from Kandinsky to Rembrandt.
Trees cast down their crowns,
the ponds release their birds
bound southward, the sky
leaves its scarf in brown branches,
the round sun begins rolling up its things.
This scattering is also a drawing in.
Beds of leaves, mounds of leaves
the color of old books gather and rest.
The ground receives it all
and begins its dark, profound work
beyond my seeing, beneath my bones.
Even the leaves of childhood
and the sky’s drama of my long youth,
the naked, willing wood of trees,
and all the things piled around on my desk
like leaves when I return to the house,
are gathered in someone else’s hands,
bedded down, held close
for the long, bright winter.
You Are Being Lead
“The life and death of a human being is so exquisitely calibrated as to automatically produce union with Spirit.” —Kathleen Dowling Singh
Ripening reveals much bigger or very different horizons than we realize. The refusal to ripen leads to what T.S. Eliot spoke of in “The Hollow Men,” lives that “end not with a bang but with a whimper.” I hope that you are one of those people who will move toward your own endless horizons and not waste time in whimpering. Why else would you even read this? Perhaps these meditations may help you trust that you are, in fact, being led. Life, your life, all life, is going somewhere and somewhere good.
Ripening, at its best, is a slow, patient learning, and sometimes even a happy letting-go—a seeming emptying out to create readiness for a new kind of fullness—which we are never totally sure about. If we do not allow our own ripening, and I do believe it is somewhat a natural process, an ever-increasing resistance and denial sets in, an ever-increasing circling of the wagons around an over-defended self. At our very best, we learn how to hope as we ripen, to move outside and beyond self-created circles, which is something quite different from the hope of the young. Youthful hopes have concrete goals, whereas the hope of older years is usually aimless hope, hope without goals, even naked hope—perhaps real hope. Such stretching is the agony and the joy of our later years.
Old age, as such, is almost a complete changing of gears and engines from the first half of our lives and does not happen without slow realization, inner calming, inner resistance, denial, and eventual surrender, by God’s grace, working with our ever-deepening sense of what we really desire and who we really are. This process seems to largely operate unconsciously, although we jolt into consciousness now and then, and the awareness that you have been led, usually despite yourself, is experienced as a deep gratitude that most would call happiness. Religious people might even call it mercy.
Adapted from ‘Ripening,’ Oneing, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 11-12
Gateway to Silence:
Ripen me into fullness.
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation