Interning – Slowing Down and Noticing in Autumn

October is the strangest month, full of paradoxical feelings and transfixing images. I remember as a kid growing up back East in Erie, PA, staring out the window of my elementary school classroom, and being transfixed by the scarlet and tangerine leaves dropping from maples into swirly clusters on the ground. The wind, the vividness and the shifting quality of nature, all conspired to distract me from paying attention to my rather stern teachers. But that was the allure of autumn.

As an adult I learned about the Neopagan holiday, Samhain, marking the end of harvest, the transition from light to darkness and the thinning of the veil between the secular and the sacred. This is a wonderful antidote to the parade of witches and goblins on Halloween or maybe even a parallel and simultaneous ritual that can symbolize the soul’s returning home to the sacred realm as both the earth and we begin to quiet ourselves for winter.

At Starr King UU Church, like the upcoming Samhain and fall foliage splurge, I am noticing that the rush of September return through the restarting of our liturgical year at the water communion is slowing down; we are catching our breaths, and I, as the new intern, am feeling connected to the many new and exciting people I have met at the church. There is a sense of freedom, commitment and vibrancy at Starr King—in the worship, the social justice action, religious exploration and the hospitality—that all offer sanctuary to our parched souls seeking respite from the frenzy of the secular world. October is the strangest month.