Sarah La Rosa

The Elegance of Decay

Sarah La Rosa
The Elegance of Decay

I am constantly analyzing and debating within myself what is useful and not in my life, as well as what I see to be 'right/wrong' and 'good/bad' for me.

Mostly, I war against a drive to accomplish constantly, and struggle to find balance in true rest.

I've mastered the art of blooming, producing fruit, but the downward cycle part, those turning leaves and wilting petals- those are uncomfortable parts for me.

I confess- allowing decay in any form has always been one of my challenges.

But decay is more than simply necessary for the rebirth to come.

It's as integral to the processes of life and death as those thresholds themselves are.

Decay has its own elegance.

Sometimes it's avoidable, like the houseplant of mine that met its demise from my over-enthusiastic watering, rotting the roots below.

That was a nasty, gooey mess, but it was also fascinating to observe.

The color and vibrancy of the plant changed over a matter of just a few days, and there was no stopping the process once it had begun.

I can feel the air turning golden and spicy like a yellowed apple, and just a hint of color is beginning to appear on trees around the valley.

We all love that transformation, don't we?

But it, too, is a decaying.

Our modern culture has developed a science around keeping as many things fresh, long-lived, sealed airtight, as possible.

But the nature of our primal cycles mandate decay.

It's the least celebrated of the changing that takes place in us.

Birth, growth, maturity-even death- these are hallowed transitions and rites of passages that we honor and meditate upon, write philosophies for and about.

But decay? It's been disenfranchised.

Nobody wants to witness decline- just the death, then we can mull on rebirth and all that entails as a new beginning in a new incarnation.

I've always preferred Autumn to the other seasons.

It's like everything is thrown into sharp focus after the soft hazes of summer.
I think of words like: pungent, spicy, sweet, vibrant, thoughtful, savory, crisp, brittle, harvest....

Of course, who doesn't love a harvest- the focus on the fruits of so much labor, earned in sweat and patience?

But the tree, or bush, or stalk remains in place once unburdened of its offspring- left to rot, die, or simply lie dormant and fallow until the next year's growing season begins again.

It is forgotten, this giver- ignored in its ensuing decline, its necessary decay.

But there is grace in decay.

The slowing down, the drooping eyes, the sagging leaf that lies down as if to nap, until so fatigued it lets go its hold on the tree who has sustained it all spring and summer.

Even our bodies are a constant study in decay and shedding-eyelashes, hair... and it's not only to make room for new growth.

Look to nature- after the decay of Autumn comes the quiet winter.

The land sleeps, observing the comings and goings from under hooded eyes-watchful, still, in no rush to join whatsoever the races of humanity.

It embraces, fully, the state of impending nothingness.

There is deep wisdom, what Sue Monk Kidd calls Big Wisdom, in the nothingness.

Feminist Thealogian Carol Christ says that woman's awakening is preceded by an experience of nothingness.

To arrive at that germinative nothingness, we must allow and keenly observe decay in ourselves, as friend, not foe.

I've been in a state of decay for some time now.

My soul has entered a decline, a descent into quiet stillness.

My leaves are drooping, my petals dropping gently one by one until there is no more ignoring the process of change happening within me in the deepest places.

I've been tired, so tired, unmotivated, weary of producing.

I am being taught about the elegance of decay by my own body's messages and urges to retreat into spaces of solitude.  

It all feels so appropriate- this turning over, preceded by a decay.

I won't lie- I much prefer the excitement of rebirth- the feelings of newness and awakening that go along with it.
But that cannot be without the decay that comes before it.

I'm trying to embrace the feelings of nothing, of absence, at the soul level.

These are significant to me and I feel they are to be honored, marked.

I want to learn how to honor decay- how to see it for what it truly is- another holy passage, in no way less than the blossoms of spring.

I love these words by Sue Monk Kidd ~

Divinity will be in the body, in the cycles of life and death, in the moment of decay and the moment of lovemaking...The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual, dying moment.

May you embrace every moment, whether vibrant with color, simmering gently with quiet life, or cooling and fading as the season of decay makes Her compassionate presence known to you.