Giving Up the Ghost

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Autumn has shaken out her flaming hair, lowered herself upon the hills, and settled in for her season’s reign. Yesterday presented one of those moody gray, metallic days that oversaturate the colors along the trail. The air was damp enough to deepen the perfume of a fallen tree smoking down to ashes. The scent flowed along the trail like incense, consecrating my walk. A strong wind clattered through the aspen and ash trees, and farmers’ combines rolled through the cornfields, harvesting food for livestock.

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Abandoned nests reminded me of spring’s bright eggs, hatching to chicks that grew to fledglings who have now flown away to warmer homes. The blue herons have migrated and the ghostly white egrets are passing through, another sure sign of autumn.

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My gardens will be dying back in the coming weekend’s frost; all the lovely blooms and vegetables have been harvested. This year’s turkey flock has matured and travels daily through the yard, feasting on seeds.

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All around me, it felt as though the spirits of the woods, gardens, and fields were rising, their annual works of art complete and their fruits ready to harvest.

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The expression, “Give up the ghost” passed through my mind, and, while I imagine it’s a euphemism for death, I thought about the ways the spiritual journey calls us to continually surrender our self-image, casting away what we’ve learned is false regarding who we thought we were, and trying to become more authentically true to the self our experience and seeking has revealed. This is a journey of compassion, delight, and gift, as we try to open to our eternal essence and live consciously from its light.

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It seems right that the bounty of autumn leads to celebrations of gratitude, feeding our bodies and preparing them for winter, just as our authentic life’s work is meant to nourish our spirits and those around us, to propel the circle of creation towards another cycle of excavating the truth of who we are meant to be: uniquely blessed and blessing.

I’ve been reading a reflection on Jung’s understanding regarding the “second half” of life, when we’re called to turn over the garden of our souls, weeding through the labels we’ve assigned to ourselves and digging deeply, sifting for the authentic meanings hidden in our choices and their outcomes. We can uncover the wisdom our lives have yielded and shine it back to the world, recognizing and living from the in-dwelling Presence that is unique, universal, and eternal.

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For Jung, and for me, this is deeply spiritual work, the most challenging, creative, and courageous of our lives, requiring us to encounter our shadows and all the unconscious ways we’ve eluded naming and becoming our true self, so that we may accept and make whole (as fully as possible) who we are, while we are.

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Although Jung speaks of life’s “halves,” I’ve always imagined this creative healing and whole-making to be accessible from birth, traveling in a spiral through all our years. Some hear the music and engage at a very young age, and some never perceive the song, or see the colors, or imagine the possibilities of becoming Who I Am…or they fear and avoid the invitations to explore around the corners and below the surface of the identity they’ve constructed. Self-generated masks protect us, after all, until we’re ready to set them down and become more authentically who we are, in essence.

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I believe that part of our human responsibility to each other is to take the time to lovingly extend the invitations to know ourselves better, through a companionship of presence, listening, and encouraging one another’s gifts.

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Autumn teaches me that giving up the ghost—the self-image I’ve fashioned and that no longer serves my growth or my gifts—is a way to become more fully who I am, as a rounded, evolving flash of creation. It’s a lovely season to search through my past year and name the times I’ve felt most and least like “myself,” and figure out why.

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Such lessons are the true bounty of life; the fruits and soul-food they yield help us to isolate the seeds our spirits need to plant and tend for the next part of the wisdom journey.

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8 thoughts on “Giving Up the Ghost

  1. Wonderful words and expressions from your heart Kitty…As always fabulous pix as well 🙂 Here too the fall is slowly giving way to winter! Yikes…Dare I say that word. A frost due here soon and even talk of snow. The gardens have gone, the leaves are turning colors and falling quickly as well. Squirrels racing around stuffing their pantry full of goodies and the cats coats are growing courser and thicker as their winter fur comes in. Yes the seasons are changing as are we in many ways. Yet another chapter in our book on life about to begin. May you both have a good season ahead and stay warm at full moon cottage. Sending you love and happy thoughts…VK ❤

    • Yes, it sounds like autumn has arrived there, too! Thank you, VK, for your great kindness in reading and supporting my writing and feelings…it means so very much. I wish you a grand autumn and bountiful harvest! I’m already counting blessings, and you’re one of them. gentle peace from Full Moon. 🙂

  2. I just loved… “when I name the times I’ve felt most and least like “myself,” and figure out why.” How very true, it’s usually when not around like-minded people! Yes, it’s an endless journey trying to figure out who we are, especially as we evolve and change with our experiences…..How beautifully you write Kitty, it’s always so good to read your words and you always provide food for thought!
    I can just imagine how lovely it must be to have those turkeys wandering through your garden, what a privilege! How good to see them wild too! The tawny chested squirrel is a joy and I just loved the seeds, Asclepia? and that ghostly egret, you truly do have wonderful wildlife! Another delightful post!xxx

  3. Oh, Dina, thank you! Yes, asclepias along the trail, and in our “wild acre.” I love it and so do the monarchs, though there are so many less of them…The turkeys are my secret joy! I always toss some sunflower seed on the lawn when I feel the feeders. The flock comes through in the morning and late afternoon. A bushy fox ran through their party yesterday (there are about a dozen or more in the flock) and boy, did they chase him away into the woods! It was fun to watch…and no animals hurt in the viewing. 🙂 I always appreciate your comments…they’re kind and give me more to think about as well. 🙂

    Joy to your week’s end. I’ve been subbing with a peppy but sweet 4th grade. 🙂 One more day…

  4. And that is why when I come over and read your posts dear Kitty, I need to prepare my heart, slow down, make space, get myself a cup of hot tea and immerse myself in your thoughts. For you always bring out treasures from the deep chambers of your soul.

    “True loss is for him who spends his days in utter ignorance of himself.” Baha’u’llah

    I love the imagery of turning over the garden of our soul. Like a watchful gardener tending over what falls and takes root in the soil of our hearts. Indeed what harvest are we turning out from our lack of attention. And I am learning most of all, to enjoy this process as well. You put it so nicely calling it “a lovely season”.

    I have so much to tell you. Oftentimes, I write letters to you in my mind. I am loving helping out the 5th graders during writer’s workshop and literature circles. We are hosting a refugee (oh, how could I possibly even use that word now!), a friend at our home for a month now.

    It feels like life is in full swing, and yet behind the scenes, where no one is looking, a different sort of transformation is taking place. The transformation of my heart.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your friendship, for your great kindness to me and for your generous heart.
    I feel you pick me up and breathe strength into my being each time you write.

    Love, Sharon

  5. Oh, Sharon, it does my heart great good to hear you are well and growing, sharing your many gifts and great compassion with the world! Thank you for your kind words; I felt so moved by your post yesterday: had to share it.

    I’m doing a lot of substitute teaching this year since the funds weren’t available for the after-school program I’d worked with the past few years…enjoying my time with children however it comes!

    It sounds like you’re sensing a time of transformation…? After a challenging summer and new losses, I certainly feel like my spirit is being ploughed up and ready to lie fallow till new seeds are planted…just trying to be with where I am…friends with words and hearts as generous as your own are my boon companions in the process. Great thanks and much love, Kitty

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