By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
A little over a year ago, I moved into a new office. It’s a great place, with plenty of working space. The only thing is – I wish it had a window. I miss the connection to the world outside.
I’m reminded of it in a special way now, for two reasons. For one, we’ve just ended the month-long “Season of Creation,” a special time of prayer, extending from the September 1st Day of Prayer for Creation until the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th, focusing on our relationship with God the Creator and our relationship with our Earth. Christians around the world, from many denominations, are united in prayer for our common home. Pope Francis reminds us, in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God” (84).
The second reason is more personal and, right now, more painful. I’m filled with memories of our Sister Madeleva, who just died. She loved to recount stories of growing up on a farm and all the ways that she interacted with the natural world. She took such delight in the sky – especially the clouds! – and flowers and butterflies and trees and birds. She loved them not just for their beauty, but as gifts from God and as gifts that draw us to God. And it certainly didn’t stop in her childhood. One of my cherished moments will be her invitation to view the view from her bedroom window in Our Lady of Grace, our assisted living facility. She definitely felt caressed by God as she prayed, looking at the world around her.
One of my favorite images of St. Francis is one I found while looking for something else. It’s a statue of St. Francis in conversation with a bird. Sculpted by Frank C. Gaylord, the creator of the Korean War Memorial, it’s titled “God’s Fool” and is located in a cemetery in Naperville, Illinois.
As I long for a window to see the colors of the trees changing, my prayer is that, as the “Season of Creation” has ended, a new season of creation begins for us, that we may always be in touch with the rhythm of nature, that we may always listen to the wisdom of the Earth and its creatures and that they may always bring us to our God.