"Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life." ~John Muir
Even though it is already late October, the Autumn colors were just beginning to flare on the mountain this past weekend. The first hard frost of the season is yet to come so the changing and fallen leaves were juxtaposed against the late blooming vibrant pink, purple and yellow flowers of summer.
At the retreat center, there is a lovely little mixed garden in front of the resident manager's home where I spotted several of these unidentified but lush purple flowers still growing. I took several close up shots of the variety there, but it was this fairly recently fallen flower head, approximately the size of an orange that caught my eye and attracted my lens. There was something about its fresh glow, in spite of of its demise that made it particularly fascinating to me.
One cannot help but contemplate the cycles of life and death in this season of Autumn. It is equally hard to avoid the subject of death when taking time for solitude and spiritual reflection. Perhaps that is why it is hard for some of us, myself included, to unplug from all the distractions and obligations of daily life to contemplate our place in the world and the meaning and purpose of our lives. There is no way to seriously ponder thoughts of life without considering our own mortality in the process.
We don't really like to think about that part of the equation do we?
Those of us in mid-life also tend to think about it more frequently as time marches on. When we think of mid-life crisis, images of balding men with shiny red sports cars who trade in their forty year old woman for two twenties spring to mind. Most of us endure this passage in a significantly less damaging financial or personally devastating way, but being in the midst of it I can understand why it makes people a little crazy.
As for me, I ran off to the mountains to stop time for at least a few days. It is amazing how well that seems to work.
I intentionally set no agenda for my time of retreat, but I knew it would involve a lot of reading and it did. On the last three retreats, I revisited M. Scott Peck's Road Less Traveled trilogy and he deals with this topic more eloquently than I ever could. So, I'll just recommend you read him if this is a topic you wish to ponder more deeply. The last of these three, The Road Less Traveled and Beyond: Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety goes deeper than most of us like to go, but if you do it will be worth the effort.
There were many good books provided in the hermitage where I stayed, and I read quite a few of them. At some point I will provide a full reading list from the past year. There were also books for sale in the main center and I picked up a copy of Richard Rohr's Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life on the way out. It is a worthy read for people of all ages, not just the mid-life demographic. I'll likely have more to say about this book later.
Today I am happy to see Kim Klassen back from camp and I'm linking up with Texture Tuesday with today's featured image. For this one I used her "portrait" and "luminous" textures.