Catharsis:  Bearing Our Losses
October, 2006

 We are falling into the embrace of autumn—
a time of great transformation.  

The sap has begun its journey to the roots.  
We hang the storm windows, rake leaves,
drain the pipes, pack the summer clothes,
and get out the warm, cuddly sweaters and thick, warm socks.  

We experience our last drop of warmth
in the cloudless skies of an Indian summer.  
We see the dry stalks of corn,
feel the first frost on grass,
watch leaves dancing down the street, and smell them burn.  
We watch birds flocking by the hundreds on their journey south,
squirrels gathering their winter food,
little rodents looking for holes, bears seeking dens,
rabbits and owls changing color into winter wardrobes.  

But, most of all, autumn is filled with color:
crimson, fiery red, maroon, yellow orange,
bright yellow-red maples, gold aspen,
yellow birch, and the naked willow dancing in the wind.  

The days are so delightful and the nights cool and crisp.  
We are enticed to go back outside one last time.  

 Autumn has many different meanings.  
It can be a time of harvest and abundance;
a time of storing food for the long winter season ahead,
and a time of celebration.  

Autumn also bears feelings of sadness,
depression, fear, and mourning.  
Shadows grow longer.  

Just as we had immense desire to climb great heights,
now we seem equally driven to descend to great depths.
This is a time of catharsis,
emotionally confronting those areas of our lives
that we have left untouched.
As autumn sheds its life and moves
toward the heart of darkness,
we emotionally experience melancholy,
remembering unfulfilled desires and passions
that tragically shipwrecked.  

We are aware of the “threads” that have ended in our lives.
We mourn the passing of anything that has been loved.  
We summon memories that have become distant, yet close.  
We remember again and say farewell,
and confront the realities of death and decay…
this is truly a time that tries our souls.  
We work to consolidate our understanding of life.
This path becomes difficult to sojourn.  

Yet this world below the surface is also a place of discovery,
full of unconscious forces.  
The tones of fall are meant to be soothing and healing.
Embracing the sad and the darker feelings
gives a gift of grace and makes reality a little easier to bear.
As we work with these difficult emotions,
grief can change to gratitude, fear to joy, and despair to faith.  

 “Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

“He binds up the brokenhearted, comforts all who mourn,
bestows on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning
and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1-3).  

“I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).  

 We find solace in these promises.  
The gracious Holy Spirit bears our tears.  
Silently and ever-present He gently massages the sore wounds.
We are transformed.  
Continuing in the embrace of autumn…we journey with you.

Soul Journey Through the Seasons