September 13, 2020
The autumn wind’s a pirate,
Blustering in from sea;
With a rollicking song, he sweeps along,
His skin is weather-beaten;
He wears a yellow sash,
With a handkerchief red about his head,
And a bristling black mustache.
He laughs as he storms the country,
A loud laugh and a bold;
And the trees all quake and shiver and shake,
As he robs them of their gold.
The autumn wind’s a pirate,
Pillaging just for fun;
He’ll snatch your hat as quick as that,
And laugh to see you run!
– Mary Jane Carr, Pirate Wind
The wind here was certainly boisterous early this week, sweeping in at full charge, swirling about and then quickly letting off for a few minutes only to rouse back up again. It was the kind of wind that only comes with the seasonal changes and it stirred up images in my imagination of St. Michael’s white horse flying past. My dear friend and former colleague, Shanah Ahmadi, created The Story of Michael years ago in which she writes,
“When the wind blows, we can wonder if Michael is above our heads on his winged horse, stirring the breeze. When the wind howls, we can know that we hear the sound of Michael’s sword cutting the air, as he swiftly rides to find the dragon…”
I thought about those swirling winds, and the call of Michael that seemed to creep up on me so quickly this year. We have barely settled in from our move, and the last few months were so chock-full of twists and turns that the idea of hazy, lazy days of summer is almost laughable.
A few weeks ago when I first considered the approach of September and the season of Michael, I was almost exhausted by it. “Oh, no, not more digging in!” I thought to myself. I’d had enough digging in for the year. Typically, I’m revved up for this season and ready to delve deeply after a summer full of outdoor activity, and a focus outside of myself. I welcome the autumn winds to shake me awake in order to get busy and prepare for the oncoming winter.
In times past, of course, one was preparing for physical survival. Nowadays we are preparing for a different sort of survival, perhaps emotional or spiritual, as we align with the season and turn our focus inwards. And perhaps this is why I felt so resistant to the seasonal shift. After spending a spring and summer vacillating in and out of “survival mode,” I just didn’t feel I have the energy to do it all over again. I would bet many other people are feeling the same way.
But then, as things tend to do with the stir of autumn winds, my perspective and feelings changed… Now, I am sitting outdoors in the fresh, chilly air reflecting back on the last month and again on the coming season. And suddenly, I feel a shift occurring deep inside me like magic.
“As the storm builds, we may also feel a stirring in our chests, and we can know that is our own courage growing, within our very own hearts.” (Shanah Ahmadi, from The Story of Michael)
A smile spreads across my face and my heart quickens. Although in the moment I am dreadfully missing Rose Rock and all the joy this season brought for me there, I am also feeling a fresh sense of resolve. With one day’s worth of blustering winds and temperature drop, my heart is captured by the season. I glance around my mind at the unfinished business I want to wrap up so I can settle into the deliciousness of autumn, our new school year and our “new” home.
I also recognize that this unexpected transformative moment came with the work I have done in the past weeks. After I was confronted with such anxiety about the coming autumn, I knew I needed to reconnect to life with equanimity. I decided to take a serious measure of what I was expecting of us. Once I let go of a few significant responsibilities, the pressure evaporated. Just as in the story, courage was growing within my heart. I needed that courage to imagine re-inventing the form of our life. In equanimity, we honor all aspects of life’s transience and strive not to identify with any given “moment” of capability or performance. This is what I was aiming to embrace, and going forward I was fueled by the flow of coming back to my true self. I was already digging in weeks ago, without realizing it!
As the mood of Michaelmas makes its way into your life and heart, how are you preparing for it?