The Autumnal Equinox happened yesterday morning at 10:49 EDT. What this means is that on this day and time the sun crossed the celestial equator, neatly dividing day and night into equal segments. More specifically, the very center of the sun sets exactly 12 hours after it rises, although we won't experience it as exactly 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours darkness due to the fact that the sun's rays are refracted over the horizon. Still, it's a time when darkness and light are balanced and we can officially welcome in autumn.
The Equinox always brings on a somewhat odd mix of energy and coziness in me, what I've referred to here as Squirrel Time, when the surge of enthusiasm to stock up the larder meets my snuggling-in and nesting instincts. I discovered that I'm not alone in this when I wandered out this morning into the courtyard that I share with my neighbors. One neighbor was carrying boxes and brooms out her front door while the other was up in a ladder harvesting the apples from the very top of the espaliered tree we share. There was a feeling of energy and hustle bustle and when I returned back to my house, I discovered a squirrel in the act of burying a walnut in the pot of rosemary just outside my door. Squirrel Time is indeed upon us.
In the middle of all this activity, all these plans and goals and desires, I try to find the balance, like the light and dark of the equinox. There's an old Buddhist chant that contains the line: "Darkness and light oppose each other, like the front and back foot in walking." The word oppose is a little tricky here. It's true that light and dark are opposites but they also support each other in the tension of that opposition and so are at the same time harmonious. Just like the front and back foot moving in opposite ways to create walking.
It's this harmonious tension that I seek right now. Just enough Squirrel Time to accomplish the things that are important to me and just enough relaxation to enjoy them. Like a circus worker balanced on a board that's balanced on a ball, I'm constantly shifting and adjusting to keep equilibrium, to stand upright and focused and appreciative of all: the ball and board, the light and the dark, the harmony and tension working through the questions in my life.
Around the corner from the apple tree, the persimmon is warming up for its autumnal performance. The hard green globes that appeared this summer are just starting to mingle into orange and a few leaves have begun to turn. The fig tree, too, is releasing its fruits which for so long have been hard and green but are now beginning to soften into ripeness. Each season, each moment, offers up its splendor and possibilities if only we remember to look up and notice.
Related: Weekend Meditation: Autumn Kitchen Welcoming Winter
(Image: Dana Velden)