The Autumn Equinox: Harvesting the Seeds of Surprise

Equinoxes and solstices. The harbingers of transition and an invitation to consolidate one season and prepare for the next. Today marks 2023’s autumn equinox, the day that ushers us from the bustling, busy days of summer into the more measured, reflective wane of the fall harvest.

An auspicious spring planting.

This year, I launched my first novel on 3.20.2023, to honor the spring equinox and a rare palindrome day for an extra little boost of cosmic serendipity. I’d been carefully tilling and tending my planting field for over four years, waiting for the perfect time to plant the seeds of my book and then wait to see what would blossom. 

The sprouting begins.

A few early, much-anticipated shoots sprouted right away: seeing my book in print, signing my first copy, announcing its arrival among friends and family. It was lovely. Then, it was time to rest—to take a break after such a long, laborious cultivation. My head was delightfully quiet, and my brain and body took full advantage of the opportunity to unwind and relax. Then the quiet turned to concern… Wait, isn’t something else supposed to be happening?  Tentatively, I turned my attention back to the earth and… 

Wait, what is this!?

Flanking the tidy, well-spaced rows, all sorts of indeterminate and unexpected sprouts were bursting forth, dubious, unsolicited… trespassers. Whoa! This was NOT what I planted, this was NOT part of the plan, and nowhere in my meticulous propagation did I leave space for such intrusive garden crashers… but wait, oh no! (Insert slap to the forehead here.)

Hold up there, Little Farmer.

Yep, the Voice showed up. You know the one. The one who knows you better than you know yourself. Lamott’s truth-telling muse, King’s cigar-smoking grunt in the basement. The one who delivers up the unabashed, messy truth and, with a sigh, waits until you are ready to receive. Mine is a weathered, dusty, old medicine man (more on that at another time) who said,

“Hold up there, Missy. Did you not just write and publish a book with the aim of planting the seeds of hope and spreading the message that there is always more to the story, and that freedom, purpose, and direction are usually hidden in the messiness—the secrets, the shadows, the accidents, the unexpected? That when we are willing to look beyond the mess, the labels, the first impressions, when we are willing to be curious about the “rest of the story,” that this is where we find the meaning, the message, the magic we need to heal and be well?”

I was speechless.

“Hmm?” He asked again in a surprisingly patient, but very-much amused voice.

Checkmate. Thank you.

Well, (insert expletive here). And in that moment, I was instantly reaquainted with that hard-earned inner wisdom that is always there, even when I need a little knock to listen. Yes, this is the message of my book, but also of my life’s work. The process of writing my novel (and living my life) has not followed a well-planned, meticulously tilled path, despite my best efforts. And it was in the unexpected and unsolicited surprises that I experienced my greatest insights, the ones that guided me and my story forward with clarity and hope.

The trespassers.

Perspective refreshed, I took another look at my garden and realized these weren’t intruders, but invitations. To look beyond the disorder to see what message or magic was there, waiting to be discovered. And these surprise guests had names: vulnerability, visibility, marketing, selling, risking rejection, facing criticism, and more. They were part of this harvest, whether I liked it or not, and just as valuable, perhaps even more so, than the hoped-for yield.

“In my belief, a harvest is also a legacy, for very often what you reap is, in the way of small miracles, more than you consciously know you have sown.”

~ Faith Baldwin

In a few days from now, we will be graced with a full harvest moon, whose brightness has historically provided growers extra light in which to pull in their harvest, championing abundance and encouraging gratitude.

Taking stock.

What have I learned from my spring planting? That the planned results have been lovely: a sense of accomplishment, delight in sharing my message with others, being moved to tears by feedback from readers who discovered inspiration and hope in the story. Yet, it was in the presence of the unplanned and unexpected where the real harvest is taking place: bravery, perseverance, resilience, and a never-ending crop of opportunity to grow.

Harvesting the seeds of surprise.

I pass along the same invitation as we move into the season of reflection, abundance, and gratitude: What did you harvest this year? Is it what you expected? Did you have any surprise trespassers? When you re-evaluate at what first looked like weeds, can you find the hidden gifts and opportunities waiting for you? And as we move even further into the season of giving thanks, can we bundle up all our harvest and offer to share it with others, spreading the bounty of the fruits of our labors, so that the seeds of hope, opportunity, and the magic of surprises continue to flourish and carry on?

“Yes,” the Voice says, “yes.”