By Barb Arland-Fye
Wind whispered through the trees and the autumn leaves responded, falling gently to the ground and on my shoulders during a late afternoon walk on Duck Creek Parkway near my office. Some of the trees still carry full heads of leaves and the sun’s glow illuminated the yellow ones. The fragrance of autumn stirred memories of childhood, of jumping into piles of leaves with my younger brothers as Mom and Dad watched in amusement.
A few bicyclists rode by, a couple of joggers jogged by and several dogs walked their masters. I felt God’s presence and gave thanks for this magnificent glimpse of God’s creation. Lines from poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur” came to mind:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.… Oh morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”
Could he be my kindred spirit? The Gerard Manley Hopkins official website described him as a “man of passion and he was a lover, this poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. As a boy he loved to climb a tree in his family garden in London and look up at the sky and down at the earth” (hopkinspoetry.com/biography). I have always loved looking up at the sky and down at the earth.
Maybe my kindred spirit is St. Francis of Assisi. “Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness,” Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’ (“On Care for Our Common Home”).
The Holy Father continues, ‘“Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker’ (Wis 13:5); indeed, ‘his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world’ (Rom 1:30). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty” (Laudato Si’, No. 12).
When my younger son Patrick was a small boy, we fell in love with the children’s book, “Stickeen: John Muir and the Brave Little Dog.” Reportedly true, the book tells the tale of the Scottish-born American naturalist’s incredible experience exploring glaciers in Southeastern Alaska with a crew and a small dog named “Stickeen.” Patrick and I enjoyed reading other stories centered in God’s creation, especially James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” and the other books that followed the warm and humorous experiences of the British veterinarian/writer.
Reveling in God’s creation — whether walking, hiking, bicycling outdoors or reading about it — fills me with hope, and the inspiration for writing projects and solutions to challenges.
In the wondrous handiwork of God’s creation, I am present to God without the distraction of text messages, emails and websites. Savoring God’s creation provides an opportunity to get lost in thought, which relaxes my mind so that I can return to the office refreshed and ready to work. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God!”
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)