A Ritual to Welcome Autumn

by Christine Sine

curated by The Rev. Elaine Breckenridge

Today is September 23, the Autumn Equinox and the first day of Fall. It is a cool and rainy day where I am. As I opened some of my favorite prayers and poetry to mark the occasion, I decided to put together “A Ritual to Welcome Autumn” that some of you might care to pray and use with your communities. May the changing seasons bless you wherever you are.

A Ritual to Welcome Autumn 

For this ritual, a six-inch piece of string or twine may be used by participants. Space for sitting and standing is desired. Leadership and readings may be shared among those gathered. Bold print indicates communal response. 

Participants may gather, standing in front of an open door or window.  

Welcome, Autumn, arms full of summer’s blessings,
carrying the seeds of life for next year’s planting.
Come, enter our homes with your golden wisdom;
be our guest and share our tables. 

Welcome, Old Wise One,
May we be your students in the school of gratitude.
Guide us in reflecting upon the summer now gone,
that we might give thanks for all its many gifts.
…..Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim by Edward Hays

Blessed are you autumn, your harvesting time has come. Blessed are you, autumn season of unpredictability.
You inspire us to be flexible to learn from your shifting moods. 

Blessed are you, autumn season of surrender.
You teach us the wisdom of letting go as you draw us into new ways of life.
…..The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

           The door or window may be closed and people may be seated.    


A Reading from the Gospel of John
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. [John 12:20-26]

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s People.
People: Thanks be to God.

A Reflection on the Gospel Reading
Autumn is a wondrous metaphor for the transformation that takes place in the human heart each season. It is easy to read the human story in these autumn pages between summer and winter. Autumn calls us in from the summer playground and asks significant questions about our own harvest.  What in our lives needs to fall away like autumn leaves so another life waiting in the wings can have its turn to live? 

Autumn speaks of connection and yearning, wisdom and aging, transformation and surrender, emerging shadows, and most of all, mystery. This is the season that touches our longing for home, for completion. We are invited to let go, to yield…. yes, to die. We are encouraged to let things move in our lives. Let them flow on into some new life form just as the earth is modeling these changes for us.
…..The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s People.
People: Thanks be to God. 

A Ritual of Letting Go

The ritual is best done in silence with time provided for quiet reflection.   

Ask yourself the following:
1. …..What old habits, patterns, and way of being no longer serve you and your relationships?
2. …..What things from the past adversely affect your family or your community’s well-being and would best be forgiven and forgotten?
3. …..What does our planet need less of to make it healthier?

Take the piece of string and make three knots in it, one for each concern. As you make each knot, visualize each situation clearly, and imagine every aspect of it being firmly bound into the knot. Bury the knotted cord in the ground and let it rot away.
…… Kindling The Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman 

Participants then stand for the prayers that follow. 

Prayers to the Four Directions 

As we give thanks for the summer now past, help us to surrender to the letting go embodied in this season.
May we turn to embrace the mysterious gifts of autumn. 

We turn to face East.

Great Spirit of the East,
We stand before the place of the rising sun,
knowing the time to let go has arrived.
The chill of this seasonal change
challenges our hopeful dreams.
A persistent voice in us nudges
our tough hold on inner security.
Bless us with the rays of your love
as we struggle with our desires and needs.
May this season give us hope for the days ahead.

We turn to face South.

Great Spirit of the South,
We turn to you with nostalgic awareness.
Summer’s flowers are gasping goodbye.
Baskets of abundance sigh with farewell.
Now comes the season of diminishment.
The rays of the sun are more distant
and the vibrant greens are turning gray.
Now arrives the time of surrender.
May your love settle quietly in us like the hush of the first fog and frost. 

We turn to face West.

Great Spirit of the West
We bow to the place of goodbye,
where the sun slides below the horizon.
We stand in the presence of the ancestors
whose wisdom invites us further.
As they learned from their transitions,
so will we look to the teachings of this time.
As we fall into the embrace of emptiness, help us to trust in emerging new life. 

We turn to face North.

Great Spirit of the North,
the land is stripped of what was strong.
The long months of waiting soon begin.
We move toward a vigil of emptiness.
Keep alive the memory of the harvested seeds
while autumn stretches frosty fingers
around the corners of our watchful heart.
Bless us as we enter the lengthy darkness with the strong arms of your love.
…..The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

A New Zealand Lord’s Prayer 

Leader: Let us pray together,
All: Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed
by the peoples of  the World!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.
A New Zealand Prayer Book 

The Blessing 

Leader: May we be open to God’s blessing as we pray together, 

May the arm of God be about us,
the way of Christ guide us,
the strength of the Spirit support us,
this day and always. Amen. 

Let us bless the Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver.
Thanks be to God.  


Join Christine Sine on October 14 or watch the recording later. October and November, the season between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving, is gratitude season on Godspacelight. Christine Sine will encourage you to enter into the practice of gratitude in this  interactive retreat that will help us enter this season of gratitude with joy and delight in our hearts.

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