The saddest part about fall is the disappearance of blueberries. Thankfully, this loss is tempered by the return of hot soup and warm bread. Nature gives and nature takes. And we are a part of that give and take. We are Nature.
Which I sometimes forget.
Setting aside theologies of incarnation for a moment – having a body feels so mechanical. Unnatural even. As if this flesh and bone is not the true way of things but rather an amalgamation of found objects fused into arms and legs, and given a glitchy computer chip for a brain.
Perhaps this is why I am so in love with asana. Perhaps this is why I began as a dancer. There’s a sensuality to asana, to moving prana with breath through muscle and lymph. There’s a capability of rhythm, a syncing up with the Nature so readily acknowledged outside of myself. With asana, my body is the instrument and my breath the song.
Having a body is hard. Having a body that works well takes effort. And Grace.
But really, like so much of life, caring for the body is about listening and responding. Listening with the remembrance that the body is a part of Nature and thus exists in rhythms and patterns the same way the rest of the natural world does.
And so we arrive at Autumn, the season of gathering and of letting go. Gathering our energies to prepare for the dark days of winter. Reaping the harvest of our labors, and letting go of their results.
The cooling fruits that balance Summer’s heat give way to squashes and greens that ground energy and ever so gently warm and keep the inner digestive hearth burning. My body loves this wisdom. Does well when it is cared for with the produce of the season. And with the comforting herbs and spices of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. It feasts on Sabbath time and the continued exploration of the forest. It does well when the glitchy brain is reminded that its body is a partner of and with Nature.
St. Benedict’s brain remembered this when he wrote his Rule. He provides for a shift in the daily rhythms of work and prayer that allow his monks to get enough rest. During the long, dark nights of winter the community goes to bed at nightfall and arises a little past midnight to pray. In the summer, still going to bed at nightfall, they arise later to accommodate for the longer day and the shorter night. The body and soul are cared for in rhythmic harmony.
Given my druthers I would sleep until daybreak. And sometimes I do. But the realities of a modern schedule necessitate that in Autumn and Winter, if I want to fall in love with my asana that day, I must get up well before the sun. This is much easier in Spring and Summer when the sun and I get up at the same time. I wish I were a night owl. I wish I could extend my day in the evening but my decades have taught me that I may do so sparingly and to possible detriment. So I partner with my Nature by going to bed earlier.
This works for me.
As does saying goodbye to fresh blueberries until next year and saying hello to butternut squash and chai and the occasional pumpkin latte. The chocolate will just have to stay. And maybe the cheese. We’ll see.
So, with the approach of Autumn I invite you to settle in and listen to the ways your body and soul are moving with the change of the season. Try these questions as a way to enter this listening.