I grew up calling this season of the year, as leaves fall from the trees and gather around us, Autumn. I now prefer to call it the Fall as many do in the northern hemisphere.
Every year, around this time, the earth enters into a cycle of moving into a deep sleep, even a form of death. Some animals hibernate. Plants can withdraw into the cold of the earth and remain dormant.
Not all of creation moves into the Fall with quite the drama and colour that some trees can. But for all, it is a season to let go and fall, allowing something new to arise.
At the moment in Australia we don’t know where this present pandemic will take us. Or what it will cost to businesses, casual workers, families and institutions. There is much uncertainty and anxiety as we watch ourselves and other people in the world suffering. We are not used to self or communal isolation and we know that it is quite possible we might get sick or lose close friends and relatives. It can seem so unreal.
Our Ignatian tradition is about being contemplatives in action. We are people called to contemplate the mystery of the world while also being active within it. We willingly withdraw into that gift of silence that is open to a deeper relationship with our Creator, our land and our fellow creatures. A relationship that calls us to act and move selflessly and generously.
It is likely we will have the opportunity to practise a lot of contemplation in the weeks to come. A chance to stop and gaze upon our world in ways we never did before. To allow ourselves to be drawn into the fragility of our global humanity and how one small virus can cause us to stop and consider what is most important.
This coming time will invite the best in us to shine, such as the gift and sacrifice of our doctors, health and emergency personnel. Also those who work in our supermarkets and those who provide food for our tables. So many people caring for others.
We are living in this season of the Fall where the gift to come is not immediately evident or even tangible. We are facing a new mystery of our human condition that asks us to let go what we think is ‘normal’ and allow something new to emerge.
If we experience self-isolation, or our family or community becomes quarantined, we will be invited to further change. It will not be easy, and we may find it difficult and frustrating. Yet it is in such dying that something new and alive can emerge.
Allowing what has been can be our prayer of thanks. Becoming open to what is to be can be our ‘yes’ to God, even if we feel uncertain and hesitant. This is an Easter like no other we have ever had before. It is the promise of a coming grace in the dying and letting go as we join creation in the Fall.
Fr Brian F McCoy, Provincial