"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the
limitations of life and its content." Lin Yutang
It is true that those of us who are passing through mid-age and moving toward the autumn of our lives can feel a sense of sadness, wishing our spring days were not irrevocably past. And yet there is open to us grace for living in each season of life; if we desire, we can learn to appreciate the wisdom that experience has brought, to enjoy the slower pace, to heed the call to linger. In our maturity we can also find ourselves embracing who we have become with a new sense of appreciation.
In "Love after Love," Walcott encourages us that there will come a time when we will offer hospitality to ourselves once again; we will be reunited and reconciled to a heart that had been a stranger. Perhaps this occurs when we learn to embrace all sides of ourselves, including those "shadow" or neglected parts of our personality which we have been afraid to even admit existed. Now they are welcomed and integrated into our lives, given a place at the table. We have taken the time to understand and nurture the undeveloped aspects of ourselves and accepted the wisdom and gifts that they bring.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror,
Sit. Feast on your life.
Art above by Jose Escofet can be found here