Persons, places and things: Creation is groaning in labor pains

Barb Arland-Fye
A view of the Mississippi River at sunset.

By Barb Arland-Fye


Through our family room sliding glass doors, I can watch the changing moods of the Mississippi River in the open spaces between houses across the highway from our house. My appreciation of this view is deepening while recuperating from a broken pelvis.

Until three weeks ago, I had been bicycling daily, picking up speed and enjoying the endorphins that vigorous exercise provided. These days, I walk short distances outside my house with the aid of crutches. I thank God for the opportunity and for the blessing of a stable break in the pelvis, a nicely healing broken pinky, and for the bones that did not break in the June 25 bicycle accident. But I also pray to resume riding my bicycle in the not too distant future.

The readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time speak of hope, remind me of the end goal — eternal life with God — and to strive to be the rich soil in which the seeds of God’s word bear fruit a hundredfold.


In Isaiah’s (55:10-11) poetic exhortation, the first reading for this Sunday, I visualize God’s word coming from the heavens like the “rain and snow come down and do not return until they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful …” Slowing down allows me to pay closer attention to God’s handiwork in the trees, flowers, shrubs and Mississippi River and to inhale the fragrance of the pine trees and flowers in bloom. Birds chattering with each other delight my sense of hearing.

This reading from Isaiah is about “God’s life-giving Spirit,” as an editor observes in “Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word.” God wants me to appreciate that life-giving Spirit with which I have been blessed rather than to dwell on the “if-only” regrets.

Our second reading, Paul’s Letter to the Romans (8:18-23), reminds us that “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Paul says that “all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” and that we “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit … also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Hmmm, I wonder if this is a reminder for me when impatience and, sometimes, discouragement creep into my mind. Reunion with God is the ultimate goal … but I can’t resist hoping for great bicycle rides in eternity!

The Gospel reading from Matthew (13:1-23) is the familiar parable of the farmer who goes out to sow seed, which falls on four different kinds of soil. The workbook editor poses this question for each of us: “What kind of soil am I? … How do I open myself to be like the good soil that receives (the Word) and produces more?”

Sometimes, I avoid the Word or block it out while caught up in the busyness and demands of each day. God didn’t cause my accident but perhaps God is using it to remind me to discern my priorities. This requires prayer, reflection and trust in what God has in store for me. I am optimistic that includes future bicycle rides!

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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