22 September 2012 a post by Ian Adams

Autumn Equinox: the raggedness belongs

It's the Autumn Equinox, and in this part of South Devon everything is looking ragged. The daisies are losing their petals, the dandelions have grown huge, the leaves of the estuary-side oaks are turning, the grasses are browning and breaking. Everything is finding its natural limit, preparing for the unseen but inevitable hunkering-down that will follow in the months ahead. If you like things to be tidy, this may not feel like a good time.

autumn flower heads

But the raggedness belongs. And in the midst of all the raggedness there is new fruitfulness. The blackberries are just beginning to come into their dark prime, the seeds of the sycamore are crisping for their swirly fall, and on the stream running through the village the water boatmen are out in force, paddling against the flow.

Learning to accept elements of our own raggedness is a key step towards maturity. We may like life to be tidy (and of course it’s feels good when it is) but the reality is that life is often not tidy. And we may wish for everything within us to be tidy, but as human persons we are frequently in an equinox state of transition. We are frequently ragged.

ash keys

The teacher Jesus seems to have been very naturally aware of the seasons’ turnings in his own context. This of course is not surprising. Palestine 2000 years ago was a largely agrarian society, with most people reliant on the land or water for their livelihood and wellbeing. The gospel-writer Matthew recounts a typical story of Jesus, rooted in the seasonal landscape. Weeds have appeared in a field of wheat, sown there we are told, by an enemy of the farmer who owns the field. A discussion ensues about rooting up the weeds, but the farmer decides to let the weeds grow with the wheat, ‘for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them’. The weeds will in time be revealed to be the weeds they are, and the wheat will be safely gathered in.

brown grass

In the same way we need perhaps to accept some of the raggedness of the weeds in and around us. They are often actually just the dark or shadow side of the things that are clearly good within us. Please note that this is not to deny their raggedness. We may need to seek some sorting of our raggedness. But acceptance of our raggedness may need to come first - and in that acceptance some fruitfulness may emerge.

It’s the Autumn Equinox, and everything is looking ragged. Time perhaps to reflect on our own raggedness. Some aspects may need urgent attention, but others may actually need our acceptance for our fruitfulness to emerge. The raggedness belongs.

words and pictures © Ian Adams 2012
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