Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autumn Leaves

"...the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference"
The voices wash over me, surround me and wrap me up in their cosy warmth. I want to hold onto this moment, this togetherness. Nightlights burn gently all around and on the sacred space, a child rests peacefully on the palm of a big, open hand. Autumn leaves are scattered randomly here, their warm colours lulling us into the cold sparseness of winter.
At tonight's meeting, we each choose a leaf. From the pile strewn on the carpet, this might take some time; but in fact everyone seems to know, with deciciveness and resolve 'their' leaf. Holding this leaf as we recount the past week to ourselves and each other, we come to know it intimately. I hold a sycamore leaf, yellow and soft, a piece missing from one of its palmate tips. It has brown spots, like liver marks and thin delicate veins, only just perceptible to the touch. It is light, and later, with my eyes closed, I struggle to even feel it as it lays flat upon my open palm.
As I recall my moments of hurt, anger, humiliation, rage, self-pity, loathing and cowardice over the past week, I bring myself back to the moment. Around me, in the circle, all these other people, whom I admire, respect and have come to deeply trust, are doing just the same. As I recall my fractured past, the suffering I caused, my numerous falls from grace...'oh God, will it ever leave me?!', I bring myself back to the moment. Around me, in the circle, my friends are doing just the same.
I look at my leaf: broken, delicate, laid bare. Suddenly I feel like crying at its heart-breaking beauty. A sense of hope engulfs me...acceptance.
In a symbolic gesture, we are encouraged to drop our leaves to the floor, like the tree preparing for new life. Somehow, I cannot let go.
The tree with unwavering faith, is constantly renewed. I know, the moment I leave, I will live out another week, in the same predictable manner like last week, and before and on...
As the meeting draws to a close, I feel soft and free; safe although I'm exposed. I see that like the tree, with leaves of different colours, shapes and sizes, I have all these components...bad and good. It's what makes me who I am. But unlike the tree, I can't seem to let go.
I walk out into the dusky autumn evening, wrap my scarf about me protectively, and crunch along the leafy path towards the gate. Leaves trickle down like autumn tears. Before I go back out into the world, I pick up an old, crumpled leaf. Holding it softly by its stem, I whisper the prayer to myself: "Grant me the courage to change the things I can", and I leave it fall softly to the ground.