22 September 2011 a post by Ian Adams

High Tides and Brown Grass

Some of the highest tides of the year occur in the period following the Autumn Equinox.


There’s a road that winds down the edge of the estuary near to our home in South-West England. Every high tide the road is partially covered by the incoming water. “Where are the tide tables?” is one of the more regularly asked questions in our house. Calculations are made as to where we can walk, based on the forecast timing and height (or is it depth?) of the high tide.

I like the way that these very big post-Equinox tides make the road impassable for much longer than usual. Traffic has to take the long way round. Cyclists and walkers have to change their plans. The estuary enjoys its ancient right of way, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Rather, we have to learn to go with it. High tide here is time to stop, time to reflect, time to draw breath.


The Autumn equinox has always been considered a time in the year for this soul work. Time to stop, time to reflect, time to draw breath. The changing season offers itself, full of meaning. The fruitful time is giving way to the waiting time. The growing seasons are giving way to seasons of apparent contraction. The anxiety around the possibility of harvest is giving way to thankfulness and blessing.

The more that we give ourselves to this kind of reflection, the deeper will be its work upon us. The wisdom of the enigmatic 1st century Jewish rabbi and teacher Jesus of Nazareth imagines the kind of life that only becomes truly possible by taking time to stop, time to reflect, time to draw breath. 

I’m working with one of his sayings this Autumn: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’. I sense that this wisdom is something to do with seeing with clarity and living with transparency. Both of these characteristics can be seen as Autumnal. The leaves are beginning to fall, and the trees are turning their life energy inwards. The grasses are browning, and the summer-visiting birds leaving. The fields are being ploughed, and the longer, wider views are beginning to reappear.


So perhaps this is time to get out into the Autumn fields, to take Autumn’s paths, to walk Autumn’s edges, to look into Autumn’s skies. Time to allow the reflective character of the earth bring about reflection within us. Time to walk the landscape of the earth, and time to hear the landscape of the heart.

What have been the ‘harvests’ that we have enjoyed this year?

What is being ploughed and prepared in us for a new season of life?

What previously hidden possibility may be coming into view?


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Your comments:

Ian - Next time we meet remind me to show you pictures I took at high tide in Norfolk a few weeks ago, it was a mystical experience for me.  Blessings Kate

#1. By Kate Hampton on September 22, 2011

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