Marlena Fiol, author of the upcoming Nothing Bad Between us, has written a new blog post on fall and personal transformation.
Front Patio of Our Desert Home
In the northern hemisphere, fall is in the air. Our days are getting shorter. Low, slanting rays of sunlight are replacing the full-on beams of high summer. The lengthened shadows foretell the steady progression toward the darkness of winter.
In nature, fall is a time of death. And for many, including my husband Ed, it is a time of sadness, even depression. For him, the browning of summer’s lush green and the longer, darker nights overshadow all that’s life-giving about this muted and ethereal season.
But here’s the thing.
All of the falling and dying around me during this season are ripe with new promise. I can’t see most of what is being birthed, but I can trust the cycles of nature: Seeds are forming, and leaves are composting as our earth prepares for new life.
Fall is a threshold moment of leaving the abundance of what was behind, while not yet seeing the possibilities that lie ahead of me. It is a time of transition that invites me to be still. It asks me to pause and acknowledge that change is taking place all around me. New possibilities are emerging, even though I don’t yet see them. All I know for sure is that I exist in this moment, where much is dying and somewhere, underneath it all, re-birthing.
Today, as Ed and I enter the late autumn of our lives, there’s much we can be sad about losing and leaving behind. Just this week, we have decided to simplify our lives and sell our beautiful winter home in Arizona, a place where warmth and brightness can fool us into believing that winter will never come.
We are grieving the loss of the brightness that is slipping away.
I will take the time to grieve. And then I will look to nature as my guide. Rather than continuing to focus on everything that’s disintegrating or disappearing within and around me as I move toward the winter of my life, I choose to pause in wonder at the new possibilities that I know are germinating in even the darkest months.
As the blinding light and busyness of the summer months die down, it becomes easier for me to listen to my inner voice. And to open up to what my guest on this week’s podcast Dawna Markova calls a “wondering place.” It’s a place in the middle between “either” and “or,” where I don’t know, but I wonder.
“Wonder” from the Old English wundrian, means to “be astonished” also “to admire or make wonderful.”
I don’t know what lies ahead in this time of personal transition, and in these most uncertain moments in our history. But in that place of not knowing, I choose to be astonished by the breathtaking beauty of the long slanting shadows and the hush of the earth as it slows down to gather strength for a new season of growth.
In Dawna’s words:
“When you wonder, your brainwaves slow down. Your periphery widens. There’s more input that can come in. You begin to be aware when you’re wondering of, “Oh, my right foot is firmer on the ground than my left foot. Oh, there’s a bird that just flew past the window. I didn’t even notice it.” So, more life experience can come in.”
My spiritual teacher Fr. Richard Rohr said, “Autumn reminds me to celebrate the primal power that is forever making all things new in me, in us, and in the natural world.”
A Mennonite Missionary’s Daughter Finds Healing in Her Brokenness
This story differs from similar accounts of childhood domination or abuse because it tells the story of the author’s seemingly paradoxical responses to the powerful forces in my life, but doesn’t leave it at that. It sheds light on the social and religious dynamics underlying these responses, giving readers insights into and understanding of her otherwise incomprehensible choices, as she found my way back into loving relationships with her parents and the Mennonite community.