An online resource from The Prayer Bench used with permission
Spend time amongst falling leaves or enjoy a walk, through piles of leaves. If this is not possible, watch this short video of a child playing in the leaves:
Child playing in leaves video
I (Rev. Gail) used to love playing in the leaves both as a child, and as a parent with a little one. And still, as an 'older' adult I like to feel the crunch of leaves beneath my feet as I walk in the woods. Joyce Rupp captures the metaphor of falling leaves in her poem:
Why is this dance of death so lovely?
why do leaves seem so willing to go?
are they whispering to each other,
urging one another to be freed?
maybe “you first and then I’ll follow”
or: “you can do it, go ahead”
supporting one another gladly
in their call to final surrender.” – Joyce Rupp
To catch a glimpse of a leaf in its falling is always a gift. Reflect on how this could be a metaphor for what is letting go inside of you? Does this letting go come with blessing or is there angst arising in you? What practice of releasing is taking shape deep within and summoning your attention?
Perhaps there is rightness of the rhythm of the falling leaves. The seasons turn and we turn inward yielding to the call of the leaves.
Take time to slowly read this scripture from the ancient Hebrew book of Sirach. Leaves can teach us about the cycle of life. As you read, remember that all life is sacred: it is sacred in its being born, in it's dying, and in it's living.
Like clothes, every body will wear out,
the age-old law is, “Everyone must die.”
Like foliage growing on a bushy tree,
some leaves falling, others growing,
so are the generations of flesh and blood:
one dies, another is born.
Sirach 14: 18-20
An online resource from the Prayer Bench used with permission
Is it sunny? Notice the dust glitter in the air. Or walk to a place of dappled light and rest and savour, or look out of your window at the light hitting the surroundings.
Reflection In Autumn, the sun moves across a lower arc in the sky and the long angles of slanted light create a rich golden glow. Filtering through colourful leaves on trees and long-stemmed seed pods dancing in the breeze, the light is softer in Autumn.
This golden diffused light makes dust particles in the air sparkle like glitter, the shapes of trees and plants are wreathed in light as if golden statues. Both at dawn and dusk, as the sun rises and sets, the Autumn light renders the ordinary and humble into views of breath-taking beauty. The precious metal of gold might be worth real money but a golden Autumn day offers a different form of riches.
Light is a metaphor often used in the Bible to explain God and to name Jesus Christ. In the golden light of an Autumn late afternoon, we can feel embraced in a warmth inspiring a sense of being rich in wonder, delight, comfort and love.
A practice for you
I invite you to listen to this song, "Golden Hour" by Kacey Musgraves, and reflect on how is God your 'golden hour'?
Golden Hour, but Kacey Musgraves
Peace, Rev. Gail
Preview YouTube video Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour (Audio)
Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour (Audio)
An online resource from The Prayer Bench and used with permission
Robin Wall Kimmerer writes,
“We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth, gifts we have neither earned nor paid for: air to breathe, nurturing rain, black soil, berries and honeybees, the trees that became this page, a bag of rice and the exuberance of a field of goldenrod and asters at full bloom.” (- “Returning the Gift”)
Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond. As you ramble today, find a place that invites you to pause and soak up the atmosphere. Open your heart to earth loving you and let this be your prayer.
Take a moment to read this poem "Blackberry Eating " by Galway Kinnell. You can also listen to it by clicking on this link:
I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.
After your ramble, write your own poem, prayer or hymn of gratitude for a gift of Earth or blessing that you see around you.
"Let us thank the Earth
that offers ground for home
And holds our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies."
As you ramble today, take notice of signs and appreciate the colour and diversity of your local flowers and foliage.
Colourful Mums are part of the Canadian Fall landscape. Growing up in England, the word "mums" had a very different connection for me (Rev. Gail). I couldn't help ;augh when I read this short story from Janice, author of The Prayer Bench. I hope it gives you a chuckle too:
"We’d only been in Canada for a couple of days into our three-week touring holiday, when we were joined for a day by our friend, an academic with expertise in the radical reformation of the 16th Century.
He climbed aboard our motorhome, to guide us on a tour of his local area of Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario, with a particular emphasis on showing and telling us about Mennonites. Our guide was providing an entertaining and in-depth commentary which was extremely enjoyable for our own resident academic with a similar sphere of interest, but the rest of us were also spellbound.
Until… “Stop!” Yelled young son who was 12 at the time. We stopped the motorhome, and everyone eagerly looked out the window. Immediately there were smiles and laughter from the rest of the family. Our guide was surprised and had paused mid-sentence, wondering if he should feel offended at the interruption. He too looked out the window. He couldn’t see what had caused such a dramatic stop or inspired such laughter (although once enlightened he too enjoyed the humour and wasn’t offended).
‘Mums for Sale’ read the sign. This appealed to young son, who dragged me out of the van to have my photo taken next to the sign, pretending to purchase me, delighted that in Canada people sell and buy Mums.
Colouring for adults has become a spiritual practice in recent years. It can slow us down, and help us reflect. Today, I invite you print off this sheet of Mum to colour - you could also take a walk in your neighbourhood and take photos of various Mums.
Download colour page
A TASTE OF AUTUMN
Walk around a garden or a fruit and vegetable shop or a market. Take time to observe the produce and be thankful.
Autumn heralds the arrival of a bounty of crops including fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Harvesting is a ritual practiced the world over, to pick the abundance of crisp, juicy, sweet, apples, to thresh fields of golden corn and wheat and other grains, to cut the firm and colourful pumpkins from their vines. It’s a busy time of year, harvesting, preserving and storing all manner of produce.
There is so much variety of tastes of Autumn from enjoying freshly picked produce eaten straight from the garden, to enjoying the seasonal produce baked, roasted, stewed, steamed, fried, grilled, poached or pickled.
Harvest festivals and thanksgiving ceremonies have existed across time and cultures in response to the plentiful, copious gifts from the season of Autumn. These celebrations look different depending on where we live, but the recognition and appreciation of the abundance of Autumn produce invokes a joyful attitude of gratitude.
Thankfulness comes to the lips easily in times of plenty. But, finding these autumnal moments of gratitude in every season is a discipline.
Today, take the time to cook a soup, or a stew, or something that uses the bounty of the vegetables of the season. As you peel, chop, grate, simmer etc, give thanks to God with each action.
Here is a recipe for a delicious Parsnip and Ginger Soup from Janice, author of The Prayer Bench
Janice's Recipe for Parsnip and Ginger Soup
1 lb parsnips
2 medium onions
1/2 tsp grated garlic
1 tps ginger
4 cups chicken broth
Peel and chop parsnips and onions. Saute in butter until softening a bit ... add garlic and add ginger.
Add chicken broth, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until parsnips are soft. Puree.
Enjoy! Peace, Rev. Gail
Adapted from a resource by Rob Fennell, and used with permission
Today is our final day of reading and reflecting on these practices offered to us from Rob Fennell. I hope you have enjoyed them, and have been inspired. Perhaps you have become more aware of a deeper sense of God's spiritual presence with you.
It seems fitting that in our final day, we are reminded to embody God in our very actions and movements that we make.
As you do today's practice, think of all the ways that your relationship with the Divine have been deepened throughout the last two months of messages - and give thanks.
Stand or sit with your arms stretched out from your sides.
Draw them slowly in front of you, keeping your arms straight.
With your arms in front of you, touch the five fingers of your left hand to the five fingers of your right hand.
Stay in that position for a moment to notice the goodness of how you are made: muscles, coordination, supporting bones, joints, skin.
Give thanks for the gifts of creation, and all its wonders and splendors - including you!
Now, separate your arms again and stretch them out to the sides with your palms up.
Draw them together again in front of you, and touch four fingers together.
Give thanks for your family, your friends, your community, and your church.
Take a moment to reflect on the gift of these people in your life.
Pray a blessing on them.
Do the same again - stretch out and bring together three fingers.
Give thanks for the Trinity: God the source of Love, Jesus love incarnate, and the Spirit as love's power.
Take a moment in silent meditation and contemplation on the whirling wonder of love within the Trinity. The three identities of God in eternal harmony and joy.
Into this we are invited, in love.
Do the same again - stretch out, then bring together two fingers.
Give thanks for your partner, spouse, significant other, or a good friend.
Give thanks for the intimacy of conversation, embraces, trust and silence.
Pray a blessing on this person.
Do the same again - stretch out and bring together your index fingers in front of you.
Give thanks to God for yourself: for who you are, and who you are becoming.
Give thanks for the joy of being God's child, adopted and loved within the family of God.
Give thanks for the gifts and abilities that you have.
Ask God's blessing on your life, and recommit to giving your best to this one and wonderful life.
Finally, drop your arms to your sides (or rest them in your lap).
Breathe deeply: five slow and nourishing breaths.
Peace, Rev. Gail