Persons, places and things: Enjoying God’s creation


By Barb  Arland-Fye


A winding corridor populated thickly with trees, bushes and plants enhances the peacefulness and beauty of the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Colona, Illinois where my family and I walked last weekend. My husband Steve and our son Patrick discovered that segment of the Hennepin Canal after ordering pizza at Maria’s Pizza in Colona. Our family loves walking trails and adds this one in Colona to our list of favorites.

I experience peace and closeness to God in chapels, churches and cathedrals but also outdoors, where God attunes me to the sights, sounds and fragrances of other living things. Perhaps it was God’s sense of humor that exposed me to the not-so-fragrant smell emanating from an overturned portable toilet on the Colona trail!

We experienced the wonders of God’s creation in the adults and children fishing from the canal’s embankment, their eyes fixed on the inky green water and the elusive fish hiding beneath the surface. We experienced the joy of God’s creation in the walkers who greeted us with a friendly “Hi,” or “Good afternoon!”


Would I have been so appreciative of God’s creation if an unexpected thunderstorm had interrupted our walk? What about a tornado like the one that devastated Greenfield, Iowa recently? What I do know is that God guides us in picking up the pieces and the sun always rises.

Our family enjoyed a contrasting experience of God’s creation in downtown Chicago the week before our walk along the Hennepin Canal. Patrick purchased Amtrak tickets to Chicago for his older brother Colin’s birthday and all of us looked forward to the trip.

Passenger rail is a favorite mode of transportation for our family of “rail fans.” We need to keep in mind that God’s human creations — the train and track builders, traffic controllers, engineers and conductors make it possible for us to travel by train.

Our first stop in downtown Chicago was the Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, where we zoomed up to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. The view of the city and up to four states on a clear day ( mesmerized us. I thought about the people who made this 110-story building possible — the architects, the structural engineer, the thousands of construction workers and other crafts persons who employed their gifts from God.

The throng of humanity in Chicago required patience and compassion on everyone’s part. I saw a child having a temper tantrum on a boardwalk bridge full of pedestrians. He expressed his frustration in a language with which I was unfamiliar to a woman who appeared to be his exasperated mother. We saw people panhandling on the streets. One man, perched against a storefront, held a cardboard sign asking for money as two young children played beside him.

Downtown Chicago and the Hennepin Canal Parkway in Colona represent for me two contrasting experiences of God’s creation and calls to mind Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” as it relates to the interconnectedness of God’s creation.

“The universe as a whole, in all its manifold relationships, shows forth the inexhaustible riches of God,” Pope Francis said. “… Hence we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships. We understand better the importance and meaning of each creature if we contemplate it within the entirety of God’s plan. … Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other” (“Laudato Si’,” No. 86).

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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