By Nolan Morris
When the goodness of this life
wraps gently, its arms around you -
For this is why we are here
“The soul is here for its own joy,” Jalal al-Din Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi poet, said. Fall’s mornings greet us, crisp, cool and full of earthy flavor. Mosquitoes and gnats are held at bay, allowing us to fully absorb the beauty of the forest and meadows, as the sun’s rays remain strong enough to warm our skin.
The word “bounty” originates from the Latin word, “bonus”, meaning “good”, and more directly from the Old French word, bonté, denoting goodness or kindness. Fall settles its presence around us with abundance and a bounty to be taken in and enjoyed. It is the time of year when the work of Spring and Summer bears its fruit. Colorful, sweet, and rich, Fall is a time for joy.
How foolish we would be to not allow the time and care to fill ourselves up with this goodness. No matter what one’s work or purpose in life may be, there are plenty of times when we lose hope, sight and assurance of why we do what we do. This can be the source of significant suffering and distress. Fall is the reassurance we all crave. The process of gathering in the fruits of our labor allows joy and a sense of satisfaction to arise without effort, so long as we make the space in our lives.
This relates well to the concept of “samtosa”, one of the five niyamas as presented by the Yoga Sutras. Samtosa is the idea of generating inner satisfaction with our lives and the world around us. Granted, there are times when this can be quite difficult, which is exactly why it is important to embrace joy and contentment when it is most available. These are emotional states with long-lasting effects, which work much like the abundance of tomatoes, peaches, and apples one can preserve and store for slimmer times.
To be satisfied and joyful even when the labor is most difficult is the idea, which is made possible by understanding the purpose and meaning of every aspect of the work and process leading up to harvest time. The delicious apples which land ripe at our feet, remind us why we prune, plant, and give our bodies and selves to what is often grueling and tiresome work throughout the rest of the year.
Fall also brings with it a gradual increase in the time available for rest, as the hard work and busyness of summer fades. Trees turn inward, rather than outward as nutrients are sent from the leaves down to the roots. Less work means more time for family and friends, with whom the bounty of Fall is best shared. A communal sharing and celebration of the season's abundance is commonplace in nearly all traditional societies. Such shared celebrations and experience further empower the experience of joy, so that when one tree may suffer a down year, the surrounding forest can feed it the nutrients it needs through the roots intertwined beneath the surface.
The Harvest Moon, or full moon closest to the autumn equinox, has come and gone, but many beautiful weeks of Fall lie ahead. To slow down and mindfully harvest this rich bounty brings great pleasure and a sense of gratitude for all that has come before, as well as reaffirming our love for the work which lies ahead. Let the soul’s longing for joy be the guide today.