If we lived in an earlier culture, we would celebrate Michaelmas today. It's one of the harvest holidays, one of the quarterly celebrations that kept people rooted to traditions of the seasonal cycles.
If we lived in a high church kind of time, we would celebrate the feast day of St. Michael and all angels. The Divine Hours, written by Phyllis Tickle, explains that this feast is a celebration of the role of angels in the divine plan.
I am more interested in the idea of a hinge holiday, the way we shift from one direction to another. In Holidays and Holy Nights, Christopher Hill explains, "In summer we celebrate our at-homeness in the world. Michaelmas balances that feeling (for) in autumn we feel our not-at-homeness, the sense of wanting something else, something we can't name. We feel like wayfaring strangers... Summer is static - in Latin, solstice means 'the stationary sun'" Summer is the sacrament of natural harmony with God... while autumn we fall away from the dreaming paradise of summer back into the conflict of light and dark" (pp. 36-37).
I am trying to slow down, even as the world encourages us to zoom, zoom, zoom. I want to savor the way the afternoon light slides into evening from a different angle now. I want to enjoy the seasonal decorations that we have now. Two weeks ago, I started the transformation of the front porch:
Yesterday, I bought an autumnal bouquet.
Last night, we lit the candles in the terracotta candle holder:
I love the shadows made by the flickering lights, which I have not been able to capture on film:
A few weeks from now, I'll add real pumpkins to the mix, once they arrive at my church. First I'll help offload them from the truck.
Of course, we still don't have much in the way of cooler weather. But that's the nature of these hinge holidays, at least where I've always lived. I've always had to provide some additional prompts to keep my attention coming back to the seasonal shifts.
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