The October of my Soul

autumn leaves maple trees
The maple trees, from our kitchen window.

“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.”- Lee Maynard


Oh, my friends.

October started so hard.

On October 1st, during what should have been an evening of fun and music, a gunman shot and killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others at a concert.

I was sad and worried for my friends and family in Las Vegas. Perhaps, like me, you felt the collective pain of a billion hearts breaking, and so many minds trying to process the loss of innocent souls, and the horror of a news story that made no sense.

I couldn’t mesh the dark violence and grief with the insistent, shimmering October beauty all around me.


red autumn leaves


October 5th brought the news of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Soon, millions of women and men were sharing their own heartbreaking #MeToo experiences. The stories kept coming, along with the sad, eye-opening truth that far too many of us have experienced sexual harassment or abuse.

Then the butterflies arrived in Colorado.


Painted Lady butterfly


The Painted Ladies fluttered and lingered in our yards and gardens, so many migrating through Denver that a 70-mile swath appeared on the National Weather Service map in glorious color.


Map of painted lady butterflies


In typical Colorado fashion, we had record high temperatures as well as snow and a hard frost mid-month.

Then the trees began releasing their leaves in earnest. We do not lack for leaves in our yard. I try to focus on the beauty, and not the leaf-raking tasks that still lie ahead.


autumn leaves yard


On the third weekend of October my son and I left the autumn leaves behind and took a short trip to the West Coast, where we stayed in a hotel with weak, intermittent Wi-Fi. At first I was annoyed by that.


No wifi


But later? I began to feel grateful for the technology break. Early each morning while my son caught up on his sleep, I walked down by the Dana Point Harbor marina. I followed a well-worn footpath among the eucalyptus trees to the quiet beach, and put my toes in the water.


Doheny Beach
Doheny Beach in Dana Point, California


And then my birthday came, with love and gifts and cards and greetings….and a family party and my favorite chocolate pecan birthday cake, made by my dear mama.

Now October is winding down, and the #MeToo stories keep pouring in. Numerous news outlets report that many of the Las Vegas shooting victims can’t pay for their enormous medical bills. I have so many deep concerns about the state of our world right now. I never want to become complacent about violence or hatred or harming our earth.

And at the same time, as I reflect on the month I feel deeply grateful for all the goodness and blessings and love. I feel darned glad for another birthday.

There is so much beauty all around us, and at the same time things occur every day in our modern world that are unbearable. How do we begin to reconcile the extremes?


Eucalyptus trees
Eucalyptus trees at Doheny Beach


On her 61st birthday, author Anne Lamott wrote this:

“All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift, and it is impossible here. It is so hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it is filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies, and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.”


autumn maple leaves


As this month of darkness and light draws to a close, may we not lose heart.

We each have missions and causes that stir our hearts. We are each equipped with different gifts and talents. In our own individual ways, each of us can be courageous and create positive change.

I’ve gotten to know many of you through this blog, and I know in my bones that in a world of both breathtaking wonders and heartbreaking evil, we will continue to send out beauty and light and love.

Hugs and gratitude,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of 15 books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

8 thoughts on “The October of my Soul”

  1. Ahh, Eliza,
    what a month. In honor of this, I will give you this fragment of a RM Rilke poem–I keep it on the wall in my office, for both myself and my clients:
    Let everything happen to you
    Beauty and terror
    Just keep going
    No feeling is final.

    Happy to see another Anne Lamott fan.
    Cheers to you, Stephanie

  2. Yes, what a month. Following Stephanie’s lead, here’s a quote from Og Mandino: I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.

  3. Thank you Eliza: This was a refreshing boost to start the new month. I too have an October birthday, and it felt good as always. Take care!

  4. To my beautiful cousin Eliza! Thank you for putting in words what I and I am sure many others are/were feeling about October. It is very conflicting to feel sorrow and fear but also awe for beauty in nature and the earth and in the hearts of some if not most people. Thank you for reminding us of the beauty and light and love that is still here. As with life, if there was no pain and sorrow, there would be no happiness and joy. Love you cousin!

  5. Thank you for this reflection.
    So sad October ended with more terror yesterday afternoon in New York City.
    Will it ever end?
    A world of contrasts indeed.


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