‘Learn to let go of what we don’t truly need’

One of the best words I have to describe the season of autumn is bittersweet.

The Very Rev Dermot McCaughan Parish Priest.

John Keats referred to it as ‘the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’.

It is a time of many moods, some sad and some inspirational.

How can we not be moved by the dramatic changes of colour, the cooler weather, the descending darkness and the bare branches contrasted against the open sky?

Autumn highlights all the basic necessities of life.

During this time animals prepare for the winter by storing food and creating cosy hibernation spaces. Farmers work on their autumn harvest by collecting a reserve of crops. Gardeners cultivate their lawns and shrubs in preparation for a new season.

We all tend to retreat indoors and focus on creating a safe and comfortable home. In a beautifully poignant way autumn offers us a chance to reconnect with ourselves as we preserve our own safe havens.

The season of autumn is marked by the brightly coloured foliage that slowly drops from trees and shrubs to carpet the ground.

Leaves can fall in huge quantities during October and November, quickly covering our lawns and borders.

There is something incredibly honest about trees in autumn, how they are experts at letting things go. And they know also when to let them go!

They have a head start when the next season arrives.

We too as we muddle through the different tasks of life should also learn to let go of what we don’t truly need. Those aspects of life that may weigh us down and hold us back. It is unnecessary and futile for trees to hold their dead leaves – this will only prevent new growth and prosperity. Hanging on to what is dead and no longer serves us , hinders the ability for the new stronger buds to open. So it is with our lives. We have all made mistakes, said things we regret, made choices we wish were different, held on to grudges and resentments that have no new season.

Old grievances are like non healing wounds that we make to bleed. Instead of forgiving an offence we persistently torment ourselves, causing pain and suffering. If we cannot let go, forgive and forget, and move on , this nasty feeling of resentment will sadly destroy our own life. And life was not given to us for all of this!

One of the first prayers we learn as small children is ‘The Our Father’ – a prayer that unites all Christian dominations. He is the Jesus who addressed Peter in the Beatitudes with the words – ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’. God doesn’t ask us to forgive on our own strength but He gives us the strength to let go and forgive - by forgiving us first.

The beautiful journey of today, like the trees of autumn can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday.