Autumn Equinox- reflections and ideas for families

These past few weeks my daughter and son have been co-creating a nature ‘school’ with me that we have been sharing with some beautiful families. It has been so fun dreaming up crafts, activities, stories, games, and sharing songs. I’m always amazed at the creativity that pours out of all of us as we contemplate what we want to share and hold space for!

Earlier this week, we prepared for Autumnal Equinox with our class, making a hanging nature catcher by twisting a grapevine into a circle and then choosing equal lengths of a dark/night colored yarn and a light/day colored length to weave in and out, creating a net on a hoop that will hold future natural treasures from our outings.

Today, we met at a local oak nature reserve where we observed an enormous praying mantis, wandered along a stream, enjoyed some rain on our faces and droplets dancing on water, and watched squirrels have an absolute feast of acorns. We did some balancing poses, focusing on the stillness of an animal before its activity, like a mountain lion stalking before pouncing. Then we pretended to be squirrels feasting, slowing over obstacles, becoming still to listen, burying nuts and resting in winter. I shared a story about how the animals and children have been playing all summer and now the waning sun is reminding them that it is time to prepare for winter, and that like our animal brothers and sisters we have times of activity but also stillness and rest that bring us back into balance. Earlier, we had gathered light green acorns and brown acorns and made a circle with half day (green) and half night (brown). So I suggested that we all take a green and a brown and reflect on anything that felt like too much that we need to release, and any rest/balance that we wanted to bring in, to be shared as a family during quiet sit.

Sitting quietly with my son and daughter, observing more gray squirrels munching adorably on acorns, my daughter shared that it was hard to keep the green/brown acorn circle intact with all the youngest ones wanting to move or kick them around. I assured her that it is really just about the intention and not perfection. And reminded her that perfection and busyness are silly ideas (based in colonization and control). I reflected that I am releasing those ideas, especially overcommitting and bringing more ‘saying no’ and rest, so that I have more energy for play. They then shared their own balancing intentions. Tomorrow night on actual Equinox, we will sit around a fire and share these thoughts with the rest of our family.

I’m so grateful for our seasonal changes like Equinox that remind me to look to natural patterns that always bring peace. I am reminded that there are no mistakes, no ‘wrong’ in the natural world (of which we are a part). Some were fearful of poison oak today, and we reflected that its gift is to call us to slow down. And perhaps it was so pervasive on the trail because that is the very message we need at equinox.  Every being has a purpose. Life truly is a circle. And I am grateful for the deep self-acceptance that this invites.

In this circle, we have sweet moments but we also have challenges and muck to wade through, and that is the compost that must be broken down. In all of my gardening endeavors I have learned to love compost. Today I looked down at the crushed acorns, grains of rock, dead leaves, and small branches and felt a deep love for all of the learning that is what every moment of mothering is, learning about ourselves, having our wounds touched on for healing, learning to bring up the leader within us, experiencing compassion for ourselves when we reach it for our children, finding the joy when we are shown it by our children. Everyday is rich with moments of learning and growing in the “momastery.” It is not easy. This week, my teenage son was embarrassed of me in public and it brought up my own old grief from my middle school years and how insecure/mean I I took time to cry and release and ultimately was grateful for the buttons he pushed to make that happen. And though this pain/muck is hard, we can handle it, like all our existential feelings that need to be felt.

Like the pain we feel when parenting gets messy. And it gets hard and messy often. Largely because our society is not designed to support parents and children. We live in separate cages. Parents are expected to be a whole village. Mothers are left alone. Our tribe is broken.

And yet, we keep going like all that grows, however imperfect or challenged in nature. Here in the oak grove it’s easy to find many an oak that has contorted into various adaptive twists and turns to find its way to the sun.

We are the same.

And like the oak, along the way we get to let go of the parts that we are ready to shed, that need to be shed, creating a rich mulch like the one I ran my fingers through and admired.

Equinox with its equal day and night, reminds us to come back into balance. To keep listening to that heart that is our compass. We release what doesn’t serve us anymore, but we honor the nutrients those experiences are adding to the soil of our mothering. Just like I often remark, ‘compost is magic’ so is this alchemy of our lives.

There is no failure. Only soil building. Some days, there are beautiful leaves, flowers and fruit. Some days, dead leaves, fallen branches and shit (or manure or ‘castings’ if you prefer those terms!). And it is ALL beautiful. We live in a society that sells perfection and fantasy strategically, but the truth is, we are all glorious just as we are, wherever we are, flowing within the great circle of life.

I’m pretty sure every other living being knows this. On this equinox, let’s return to our own deep wisdom and love that is our birthright.

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