Turning, Balancing, and Tilting: Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

As I reread my spring equinox post (and last fall I completely skipped over the autumnal equinox most likely because I was frantically applying for jobs), the message still resonates. We are moving into fall, and somewhere else, others are moving into their spring….

As always, I felt the equinox approaching more strongly than I ever feel the solstices, and this past weekend I prepared the house, crafted a holiday card, phoned a spiritual sister, and lit the “fall” candle. (No, it is not a pumpkin spice candle; it supposedly smells like birch trees?) And tonight, we’ll go as a family to an equinox party.

I love the equinoxes. There’s a subtle thrill to catching that moment of balance on the earth. It’s like turning a page of music while playing the piano; you have to time it just right. The equinoxes are busy times of year, and just like hands moving rapidly over piano keys, we have to stop our busyness and turn the page for just a split second. If we miss it, the spiritual rhythm of the season — our music — suffers.

We all catch our moment of balance differently and at different times around the equinox. Even though the equinoxes and solstices are just about the only holidays that are actually on the days that they literally and symbolically represent, I don’t believe you can ever pin down anything spiritual to just one exact sacred moment. In fact, in the spring, I caught my moment of balance only to be thrown off later in the month with the emergency birth of our first child. Surprise! (I actually love surprises).

Sometimes I think our paths are much like a game of labyrinth, and just when our marble is rolling in one direction, our world tilts, and we’re forced down a hole or in a direction that sets us back. People like to come up with reasons or blame for those shifts, but marbles don’t control the table’s angle. We just have to find joy in that moment when the table suddenly steadies and the wayward marbles pause before rolling onward. That, to me, is the balance we are all waiting for at the equinox.

And unlike most shifts in our lives, the equinoxes are the ones we can actually feel coming, and therefore, I think if we pay attention, they can teach us how to listen for the vibrations of other approaching shifts, too — the ones inside ourselves, inside our communities, and inside our many systems of living. I have found that the more in tune I’ve become with the seasons in recent years, the less I’ve been slowed down by the inevitable shatterings of life’s comfortable delusions.

In the end, it’s all temporary. We are temporary, everything about us. We are the pause in the tiltings of the universe. We are the moment the pianist turns her page of music. That’s all we get — and it’s a good, necessary, wonderfully subtle and risky little pause (life!) that we get to catch.

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