This past week could not have been a better time for my annual retreat at our retreat house in Waterford, Michigan! The autumn changing colors called forth many an “ooh” and “ahh” from me on my drive there and back to Ohio. And during my walks in the wooded area near Vivian’s Via Rosa Retreat House, I was glad I had brought my phone along and took several pictures as the bright reds, yellows, browns and greens took my breath away and caused me to linger to drink in their beauty. Only later in reviewing my camera album I noticed that I had only taken pictures of what my narrow definition of beauty included – overlooking the broken, dying branches and dead leaves clinging to their familiar twigs. In my musings autumn seemed to be calling me to embrace not only the brilliant and pleasant changing colors that autumn painted into my landscapes, but also the beauty hidden in the broken, suffering, and aging both within and around me.
Several years ago I was privileged to spend some days in Rome with a friend, visiting several of the sites I had only read about. One of the churches we were both eager to visit was where St. Catherine of Siena’s body was said to rest under the main altar. As we walked with map in hand, we turned the corner and saw a very scarred facade of a church in need of paint and plaster restoration – nothing to call our attention to it, other than an obelisk with an elephant and its nearness to the Pantheon. Had it not been for my friend recognizing these signs, I might have walked right by it. But walking inside, I was totally astounded by the ornate beauty hidden within its walls. Kneeling there, I realized how often people are like that – laden with inner treasures and beauty hidden behind faces wrinkled with age or disfigured by poverty, illness or harsh life conditions. And I prayed for a healing of my mental blindness that would dismiss something, someone on the basis of ordinariness or lack of external beauty.
Pope Francis in his late Encyclical “Laudato Si,” pleas for us to see the preciousness and beauty of all God’s creatures, especially Earth’s most vulnerable peoples and species whose lives are most endangered by changes in climate and he challenges us to heed the call to take appropriate action to do what we can about it. Dominican Sisters and Associates are all challenged to join together in study groups to pray, discuss and commit to action On Care for Our Common Home. To share in our challenge, view our Eco-Justice Committee’s “Going Green for Fall” document.
May our enjoyment of Autumn’s Changing Colors Call us to Go Green for Fall 2015!