The Quiet Season

By Michael Caduto

Most of the leaves have fallen. A repose has settled over the land. The bird songs that filled yesterday’s dawn have gone silent, their singers flying to warmer climes or sequestering their energy for the austere season that is poised just beyond the horizon.

We often lament the quietude and long nights that accompany the reclining rays of the sun, but our awareness keens. In the enveloping stillness, our senses revel in every sign of remaining life—a blue jay streaking through leaden trees, Canada geese filling the sky with gregarious calls, a red-tailed hawk circling overhead with eyes fixed on a meadow vole skittering through withered grass.

In the coming months we will strive ceaselessly for the next thought or action to fill the space between autumn and springtime. What would happen if we were to let go of time and, instead, mirror the rhythms of the season of centering in? It is perhaps human nature, and biology, to serve as a counterpoint to the groundhog’s long sleep, but that does not preclude us from slowing  down to appreciate the first crystals of frost, or the early-morning sky alive with the flickering stars of Orion’s belt, made all the more present when the sonorous notes of a barred owl’s call accentuate the silence.

The in-between season presents an opportunity to reflect and appreciate the nuanced subtleties of the world around us, which have been transformed by the simple act of a fallen leaf. Just as the naked branches open up vistas to distant hills that had been occluded by the lush crowns of summer, we can also discover insight into what had been hidden in our interior landscape by the surfeit of the season of life’s sensory extravaganza. As winter hovers, our inner eye is now free to wander and, in that journey, see deeper and farther into the mysteries that have been silently waiting.

If we lean into the season of senescence, it becomes the seed for a renaissance, of the renewal that will come when we let go of the impulse to be always doing, and instead sharpen our thoughts and senses to perceive the wonders and finer shades of meaning, and delight, during the quiet season.

Each growing season can seem timeless when we are in the midst of its profusion of life. But even the mightiest wave that rides in with a roar needs break upon the shore at the end of its journey, dissipating its energy and returning to its source in the bosom of the sea, there to await the turn of the tide and the joy of arising once more.

The quiet season is a time to explore the wonders and mysteries of our inner landscape. Photo: Michael J. Caduto


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