The autumn equinox recently occurred, officially heralding the return of the fall season. Can you feel fall in the air yet? The changing of the seasons is exciting. Perhaps we’re looking forward to pumpkin spice flavors, falling leaves and upcoming holidays. For many of us, however, life goes on as usual. We don’t always notice the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, and simply continue on with our activities and priorities.
While the natural world prepares for rest and darkness, we send our children back to school, jump into after-school activities and ramp up business plans and programs to make sure they’re completed before the end of the year. Is it any wonder so many of us are tired and under the weather at this time of year?
Our ancestors experienced life differently. Because they viewed themselves as intricately connected with the rest of the natural world, they paid attention to the changing seasons and aligned their rhythms to match. Many Native traditions still do exactly that, taking the time to celebrate each changing season and the wisdom offered by Mother Nature throughout the ongoing cycles of life.
While we need to honor our school, work and other commitments, there are still ways we can pause and take time to help ourselves and our children connect with the changing season and the natural rhythms of the earth:
Fall is the season of harvest. It’s a time to gather the ripened fruits and vegetables planted earlier in the yearandgive thanks for the bounty nature has provided You can help your children acknowledge these gifts by offering up a simple family prayer at mealtime to thank all the beings involved in bringing food to your table. Then, make it a game by seeing how many people you can name who helped to provide your meal – from the farmer, to the transportation workers who shipped your food, to the grocery store personnel and the family member who cooked it. While you’re at it, don’t stop with people. You can also thank the sun, the rain, the soil, the bees – any aspect of our wonderful ecosystem is worthy of our gratitude!
As the year winds down, it’s also a wonderful time to reflect on what your hard work has brought to fruition in other areas of your life. What were you dreaming of accomplishing this year? What have you been able to achieve so far? Take a few minutes to reflect on this, and invite your children to reflect on it, too. Maybe they learned to ride a bicycle or tie their shoes, or perhaps they advanced a reading level. Offer up congratulations for all achievements, big or small, recognizing that just as it takes many forces to bring food to our table, it takes many milestones to build the life we wish to have.
Nature is sending us many signs that the season of rest will soon be upon us. Leaves fall from the trees, flowers cease blooming and the nights become cooler and darker. You can align yourselves with these natural rhythms by turning off the lights earlier (dinners by candle light are a favorite at our house during this time of year), limiting screen time in the evenings and minimizing the number of activities you choose to participate in to give yourself and your children adequate time to rest.
How does your family honor the changing seasons? Please share any tips or suggestions in the comments below. May you and your family enjoy all the blessings of this beautiful fall season!
“Return blessings, changing seasons, so that life’s cycles can end in peace. May life’s cycles return blessings.” – Diann L. Neu