I always love spring. Even after a fairly mild winter like the one we had in the Twin Cities this year, there is something wonderful about walking outside and seeing the daffodils, tulips and other flowers emerge and observing leaves where there were bare branches some weeks ago.
The other day I got an e-mail from the Writer’s Almanac that contained this excerpt from Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl that resonated deeply with me. Anne wrote:
“As long as this exists,” I thought, “and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy.” The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
Sure, you an look out the window and see the flowers and leaves on the trees. (My prayer space looks out and gives me a wonderful view of our backyard.) But it is not quite the same. What you really want to do is spend some time outside. Be alone with nature. Walk amidst the beauty of nature. Seeing. Hearing. Smelling. Let God’s creation, the “simple beauty of nature,” bring you comfort and solace.
P.S. Depending on where you are, it may or may not be raining today. A little rain never hurt anyone so go out anyway. (If it is really storming, well, OK – you can marvel at the rain from inside and go outside tomorrow.)
I was struck by a post by Aidan Rooney, C.M., on Finding our Way, written as he and some Vincentian Lay Missionaries were preparing for their trip to Ethiopia. A participant’s observations about St. Louise’s artistic side prompted him to wonder about how he encounters the world.
Aidan’s comments directly address the beauty of Ethiopa, but one can apply his description to whatever locale one is in. For all of God’s earth is “rich in experiences that can engage the senses. There are vistas, flavors, smells, textures, sounds that are all new.”
Thus we can all ask ourselves the question Aidan asks of himself as he prepared for his trip: “Am I willing and prepared to allow all of this to inform both my head and my heart?” Is the world and its beauty just the backdrop against which I go about my life? Do I walk around inside my own head, so preoccupied that I don’t even notice what is there? Or do I actually encounter the world? Do I allow the “vistas, flavors, smells, textures and sounds” to engage my being?
And as you ponder these questions, say a prayer for the Vincentian Lay Missionaries as they go about their work in Ethiopia.
Update (added 7/2): I just picked up the current issue of America, which includes a piece by Margaret Silf, titled, Mind Where You Go. She writes, “How mindful are we, as we wander this world of ours? … All it takes is a bit of time, and open eyes and ears. … Time to stop and think and be available to the world around us, eyes to really see and ears to really listen to what is actually there: the wonders, the beauty…. Every square mile of this planet is holy ground if you walk it gently and midnfully and take the time to let it disclose its secrets. Every mile can be sacramental, waiting to reveal something of who God is.”