With its falling leaves and other signs of seasonal change, September is often seen as verdant nature’s way of waving goodbye until next spring. But, I like to think of autumn as a time of new beginnings: Our kindergarteners are starting a brand new adventure, middle school children are making the big jump to high school, presenting new challenges to themselves and certainly to their parents. And many of you recently dropped off your children at college, a wrenching and searing experience quite like no other for both children and parents alike.
For some, this is a time of adjustment to a new neighborhood and new schools. Others to new love relationships. To a new job. In some sense, our lives are always becoming, regardless of age, whether we have just recovered from a serious illness or are mourning the loss of a spouse or partner.
As in so many areas of life, poets best capture the spiritual phenomenon and the challenges of new beginnings, as poet John O’Donoghue does in this poem, “For A New Beginning:”
In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”