Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Approach of autumn
by Mary Cronk Farrell
(From the Oct. 5, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)
I woke one recent morning to feel the floor cold on my bare feet and darkness outside my window. Summer had changed to fall and I was fuming. Fuming against the cold weather to come. Fuming against the long hours of darkness. I nursed this anger and dread while I dressed and went out for a run. Then settling into my stride I began to see the futility and eventually the humor in these feelings. Feelings arising from my refusal to accept what is, my resistance to the turning of the earth and the time of sunrise and sunset. What can come of such resistance? For who can change the march of the seasons? With this awareness my mood lightened and I felt more peace as I went on with the day.
In the next few days, whenever I felt myself starting to seethe about the longer hours of darkness or the colder weather, I reminded myself I was wasting time railing against something that could not be changed. Space began to open for me to appreciate, and take at least some small delight in the new season of autumn.
In days long ago my fore bearers held their harvest festival at this time of year. It was a celebration of the abundance of the earth, a time to look back and remember the bounty of the growing season. Autumn also began a time of slowing the pace and moving into a season of introspection. These people knew each stage of nature’s cycle offers its own riches.
Though most of us don’t harvest food, this could still be a time to reflect on the past few months and appreciate our accomplishments. Often we focus on jobs ahead, rather than the projects we have completed. Or we harp on what our kids need to do, not on the progress they have made. It’s easy to let our mistakes grow large in our minds, but forget our achievements. With this mindset of gratefulness, we free ourselves to see the abundance of life. We allow ourselves room to let go a bit more, to rush less, to push less, to accept what is, and maybe even feel content and satisfied.
Reflecting on the anger and dread I felt getting up that first dark morning, I began to wonder how often I create my own suffering by refusing to accept what I cannot change.
Though I was an avid reader of Ann Landers in my youth, somehow her advice that you can’t change your husband seemed to take a long time to sink in. How often I fret and fume because I have to turn Mike’s socks right-side-out when I do the laundry. At times I’ve been angry and judgmental of him because he doesn’t communicate the same way my women friends do. When I demand something he can’t give, I miss out on appreciating who he really is.
In the same way, I struggle at times to accept my children. Training them can cross the line, forcing them into a preconceived mold. Demanding excellence in all areas can make it difficult for kids to develop a healthy sense of their strength and weaknesses. Wishing a child was more out-going, more athletic or a better student devalues other qualities that are uniquely theirs.
The change of season this fall gave me new insight into the familiar words of the well-known Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
In years past I focused more on the action phrase of the prayer rather than the surrendering part. It seemed most important to have courage to work for big changes to better the world. That has given way to realizing the value of wisdom to know when to give up the battle. Each time I become aware I am fighting something I can never change, my vision widens a bit to see possibilities, possibilities for more peace and joy.
© 2006, Mary Cronk Farrell
(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and
children’s writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been
published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at www.marycronkfarrell.com)
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