The End of Summer Is the Space Before What Could Be

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 4:30 pm

The End of Summer Is the Space Before What Could Be

We’re approaching the autumnal equinox at warp speed. As I ask myself every year at this time, where did the summer go?

But I also feel a quickening as the lassitude of summer gives way to the energies of fall. Amid all the dying of the green, the seeds of new life are being planted, carrying the promise of rebirth:

“Love Wants to Know How”
author unknown

Autumn comes with its riot of death,
its clarion bells of color,
drives the living green to ground
even as it thins the veil between worlds.
The visible and invisible walk now together
with arms outstretched over fields
where workers hasten to the harvest
none may divide against itself.

So: where are you in this?
How long do you loiter
between the said and unsaid,
the done and undone,
between the half and true rhyme
of a life answering a life?

Geese mark the sky with dark wedges,
call with harsh tongues
to what thrives at the margins
of all we so reluctantly receive.
Go now,
quickly and with great force,
toward what burns in your dreams
at the dying of the year.

Who can say?
Perhaps you reap the whirlwind,
perhaps the harvest—
but is it ever enough to not know
the bonds and bounds of what will one day
forsake you for the grave?

In this time of transition, this poem comes back to me with its penetrating questions: “So: where are you in this? / How long do you loiter / between the said and the unsaid, / the done and the undone…?”

And I love the line: “Go now, / quickly and with great force, / toward what burns in your dreams / at the dying of the year.”

I’m reflecting on what burns in my dreams, and on how to ride the autumn energy I feel into the potentials that are always present in yet another season of life. As the last stanza says, maybe I’ll reap the whirlwind, maybe the harvest. Whatever it’s going to be, I want to know!

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is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Wednesday.

He is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include Healing the Heart of Democracy, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

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  • Gabby

    I share your feeling about Fall, that invigorating time, that natural time for new projects and adventures, my very favorite season of the year.
    I don’t know whether it is the new crispness in the air that does it, or the fact that for my entire life Fall has meant a new school year with all its learning, surprises, and possibilities, whether for me as a student, for me as a teacher, or for me as the mother of school age children.
    I will look forward to hearing about your new thoughts and undertakings borne of the season.

  • Gil

    There is something about this time of the year that brings my underlying depression to light. The deep connections between decay/death and growth/rebirth become solid ground where I can gently “lay my burdens down.” Thank you for your writing today. It is another reminder of the joy and wonder that most certainly live somewhere in the darkness.

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