So many colors, so many leaves are falling into the silence of fall. Once so much life and now all is soon to be forgotten. Fall's foliage is making a last minute show. Summer abundance is quickly becoming mulch for future seasons. For reasons known and unknown, life turns quickly sometimes as if there is a grand rush. The last moments, however, stir the soul as the leaves fly, sail, drift, surrender each in their own way. Soon every last leaf will have fallen to the finish line. In the silence of fall there are so many lessons, mirrors, offerings. How do we let go, say goodbye, surrender and disappear into our destiny? Sometimes there are new beginnings and sometimes there are only endings. The silence of fall expresses all of this and more.
For many years at this time, I return to a favorite monastery in southern Germany. I watch the dance of fall and silence in their timeless waltz. Each year it is different but the same. The great oak trees and soft winds pile the leaves knee high. Nature is very stark and honest at this monastery. I believe the nuns living here in their monastic silence give fall an extra shout of beauty and stillness.
I love these simple sisters and their dedication to silence. Most people don't understand. But I can feel the treasure they have found. They have discovered that everything we desire and worry about is not so important. There is a silence. This is not a mental silence of more or less thought. It is a heart silence. It is falling into the silence of fall where the leaves of life rest upon an inner Earth. The heart beats here. God beats here. Life has its eternal beauty. When I visit these sisters every year I receive their gift of letting go. Their smiles communicate something. Inside the silence is a love that carries everything we think we are carrying. We are not alone.
All of nature is changing, preparing for winter. In the big tent of silence entire forests and the small monastic garden will soon be unrecognizable from what they were only weeks ago. There is no more bursting forth. Abundance has given way to nakedness and soon emptiness.
Our experience of fall says a lot about how we manage change. Can we let go without jumping quickly into future plans? Can we just let go and experience the end of summer? Do we quickly have to reinvent, fill up our loss, or can we simply be? Life is changing. Is this okay? Can we let the silence hold us dormant in the fragile air at the cusp of winter? Do we give the silence our respect, our trust to carry us in her own way into the seasons to come?
As I watch the leaves fall, each drifting in their special silence, I am touched. I am glad I am witnessing their final flight as if each is taking a final bow. I admire their skill of letting go. To be able to let go is to discover the gift of having peace in this moment. Every time we let go we are affirming the opportunity, the possibilities, the doorway of this moment. This moment is really enough.
Normally we think when we have everything we want, all the right comforts, all the right people, we will be happy. We will feel loved. But no matter how much we have, how many or how perfect life is organized, we still don't have this feeling that finally says everything is just right. Normally we are always in process, busy managing, arranging, planning and not available to just be and enjoy. It is fall's silence in this moment where I find simple peace, simple love.
When we fall into the silence of fall,we can find ourselves dancing like the falling leaves. When our awareness is not full of everything we want but empty, there is a magic. There is nothing and there is everything. The silence can be so overwhelmingly exquisite, perfect.
This year, I am falling into the silence of fall. I am humbled. How much have I wanted instead of received? How much has impatience driven my words instead of gratitude?
I give my heart to the falling silence and hear silence whispering nothing and everything. I can fall for a long time without worrying about arms to catch me. The great falling is giving me the gift of falling into myself. There is a brilliant light beneath and all around, coming from the very center of me and everything. I wish lots of falling silence this fall for everyone. Dreams often fall, lay dormant, before beginning again. Awareness when not busy, sparkles in a gentle sunshine much like leaves falling in fall's silence.
We invite you to join us in the silence of fall at Silent Stay Retreat Home & Hermitage near Napa, California, and Assisi, Italy.