Friday, October 30, 2009

AUTUMN AS METAPHOR

Parker Palmer challenges us to see the paradox of dying and seeding in this incredible season


"Autumn is a season of great beauty, but is also a season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer's abundance decays toward winter's death.  Faced with this inevitable winter, what does nature do in autumn?  She scatters the seeds that will bring new growth in the spring--and she scatters them with amazing abandon."

"In my own experience of autumn, I am rarely aware that seeds are being planted.  In the autumnal events of my own experience, I am easily fixated on surface experiences--on the decline of meaning, the decay of relationships, the death of a vocation.  And yet, if I look more deeply, I may see the myriad possibilities being planted to bear fruit in some season yet to come."

"In retrospect, I can see in my own life what I could not see at the time--how the job I lost helped me find work I needed to do, how the 'road closed' sign turned me toward terrain I needed to travel, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to discern meanings I needed to know. On the surface it seemed that life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sewn."

"In a culture that prefers the ease of either/or thinking to the complexities of paradox, we have a hard time holding opposites together.  We want light without darkness, the glories of spring and summer without the demands of autumn and winter, and the Faustian bargains we make fail to sustain our lives."

"When we so fear the dark that we demand light around the clock, there can be only one result: artificial light that is glaring and graceless and, beyond its borders, a darkness that grows ever more terrifying as we try to hold it off.  Split off from each other, neither darkness nor light is fit for human habitation. But if we allow the paradox of darkness and light to be, the two will conspire to bring wholeness and health to every living thing."

From The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, edited by Paul Rogat Loeb.  Parker Palmer's books include Let Your Life Speak, The Active Life, In the Company of Strangers, and The Courage to Teach.

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