September has a strange and wonderful feeling. It is the best part of the summer and the hardest part of the summer. Just when summer gets perfect—fresh nights, soft sun, casual breezes, crushingly full and quietly cooling trees, empty beaches and free weekends—it ends.
Life is like that, too. Just when we get it right, it starts to change. The job gets easy and we know just how to do it and they tell us we’re retired. The children grow up and get reasonable and they leave home just when it’s nice to have them around. The days get less full of work but we’re older now and too stiff to play. The money we never had enough of to spend on “extras” abounds after the mortgage is paid off, but the desire for expensive travel and clothing and entertainment has waned.
We celebrate the autumn equinox this month—one of only two days of the year in which daytime and nighttime are of exactly equal length. From now on daytime will begin to wane. But there is nothing to fear from this diminishment of the kind of life associated with sunlight. The night times of life have their beauty and their lessons, too.
That’s life on the edge of autumn. And that’s beautiful. If we have the humility for it.
Humility is a natural virtue. It’s one of those things that everybody has to get eventually or else die in misery. Diminishment, for instance, is one of the facts of life that breeds humility and diminishment is part of every experience. We get to practice it all our lives. Humility is the survival mechanism of life.
Joan Chittister, OSB
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