Today is Remembrance Sunday, a day to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.
During November, the final month of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to remember those who have nurtured us in body and spirit, our loved ones who have gone before us, our teachers and guides who have encouraged us and enabled us to be where we are today.
The vibrant display of Autumn leaves remind us that our reflections on death are tinged with mixed emotions: love, gratitude, joy, sadness, fear, the pain of loss, a feeling of emptiness, a sense of hope. “The Autumn leaves are subtle reminders that we are asked to let go of many things throughout our lives. Every time we surrender something, we connect with our death, with the ultimate moment of letting go. Autumn is an opportunity to reflect on and claim that reality. Autumn is a necessary transition between Summer’s fruitfulness and Spring’s new life. No new growth will come unless Autumn agrees to let go of what has been. The same is true of our lives.
Let the Autumn tree symbolise yourself; for each part of the tree reflect on the following questions:
The roots: Who and what has given you nourishment and vitality in your life? Who and what ‘roots’ you in your time of significant change?
The trunk: What are your strengths? What events have channelled new life in you?
The leaves: What is dying in your life now? What do you feel called to let go of?
The bark: Who or what protects you, comforts you?
The terminal buds on the ends of the branches: What is your hope?”
Joyce Rupp: May I have this Dance?
Inevitably the letting-go process is accompanied by what we would describe as the painful experience of emptiness, a vacuum. “There is no such thing, either in the world or in the heart, as a literal vacancy, as a vacuum. And whatever space is really left by death, by renunciation, by parting, by apparent emptiness, there is God.”
Once again we thank Cathy York for this apt reflection.