Persons, places and things: The awesome mystery of God

Barb Arland-Fye

Children’s happy voices drifted through the air of an otherwise quiet neighborhood where I walked on my way to St. Ambrose University in Davenport one day last week. I couldn’t see what they were doing because of a tall wooden fence in the backyard of a house, but assumed by the sounds of splashing water that they were playing in a swimming pool. The top of a boy’s head could be seen above the fence, his wet hair plastered to his skull and a look of exuberance on his face, as he prepared to jump into the pool from a platform or diving board.
Moments like these inspire profuse thanks to God for the simple pleasures of life: being able to walk through a tree-shaded neighborhood on a sunny day in early June; inhaling the perfume of a freshly mowed lawn; listening to children happily at play; hearing birds chirping; and feeling a gentle breeze touch my skin.
Father Ron Rolheiser says in his  column this week that “there’s always something, big or small, that casts a shadow and somehow keeps us from fully entering the present moment and appreciating its richness.” I don’t agree. Despite a tendency to become preoccupied with personal and worldwide worries, on occasion I do fully enter the present moment. It happened on that walk to St. Ambrose.
Father Andy Kelly, a retired priest of the Davenport Diocese, observes in his Scripture column for this coming weekend that the hard part for us, as disciples of Jesus, “is sitting still and listening silently to Jesus. If the community never listens, hope disappears. It will never understand the awesome mystery of God’s kingdom growing every moment in the lives of believers.”
Sitting still challenges my natural inclination. My journey with Jesus involves physical as well as spiritual movement. Nonetheless, as our relationship evolves through the years I discover opportunities “to understand the awesome mystery of God’s kingdom growing in every moment.”
Another moment occurred last night at my son Colin’s apartment. We were waiting for Colin’s care giver and roommate to return home when Patrick, my younger son, asked Colin to play his piano. Colin, who has autism, sat down to play songs he has memorized. His piano teacher is working with him on reading sheet music, but Colin prefers to play by ear. Patrick approached his big brother and said, “I want you to play the song on this sheet music. I’ll show you how to do it.”
Patrick, who plays the bass clarinet and not the piano, asked Colin for guidance on where to find a B flat. Then Patrick demonstrated how the melody should be played. The lesson lasted just a short time, but I felt the presence of God while witnessing my sons engaged in something more important than a piano lesson.
An editorial in the June 1 edition of The St. Louis Review, weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, offers insight on the role of rest, refreshment and reflection in helping us to refocus on reverence.  “Not to make time to take in all the wonder of our Lord’s wondrous and creative handiwork — including the very gift of our own lives — would be for us to deny that beauty, that goodness, that wonder.”
That helps to explain the joy I experienced hearing kids at play on the cusp of summer and watching my sons bonding at the keyboard.
Barb Arland-Fye

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