Saturday, October 21, 2006

Brother Wind and Sister Leaves



Peace! I have always wondered about the interaction of grace and nature, especially in regard to becoming holy. St. Francis has always taught me that all good comes from God (which he got, of course, from Jesus!), and so all is gift. And yet, we have to strive and expend our effort. And although I’ve heard people quote St. Teresa of Avila, “Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you,” I’ve still wondered how the two could work together.
God gave me a glimmer of an answer yesterday. I was walking home on an afternoon marked both by the beautiful light which speaks the joy of autumn and the blustery winds which announce the coming of winter. Then, another mark of autumn also caught my attention: the leaves falling from the trees, and being moved all around by the wind. I’ve always thought of it as a dance, a dance of the leaves, and loved to watch it happen.
Yesterday it came to me that there are two things which help produce the way this dance happens: the wind that blows and moves the leaves, and the shape of the leaves themselves, which affects how the wind moves them. Now obviously the wind is the major factor, for without the force of it the dance would not happen. Yet, the shape of the leaves does contribute to their motion as they are moved by that wind. They dance in the wind as they are formed, and respond to its impulse because of what they are.
So maybe the Holy Spirit, the force that makes us holy, is that wind (not an original idea, I know; it’s been said before), and without that wind nothing can happen. The wind blows where it will. Yet, the shape of each leaf is also part of the equation, both for the dance of the individual leaf and of the whole dance of creation. So it matters for each of us and for all the way we let ourselves be formed, the shape that we take. That shape affects our part in the dance, and so it matters what we do, how we live.
Thank God for the dance of the leaves, and the dance of our lives, for his wind that blows invisible and yet irresistable. May we learn to love that wind and the dance it calls us to dance.

4 comments:

Brother Lesser said...

Beautiful! You've blown me away !!!

Seriusly, though, I love how St. John of the Cross says that the leaves are not equal to the tree. We are the leaves and Christ is the tree.

As for me, a humble leaf, it is important to be blown to the ground, die and become compost, so that I may become fertilizer for the Word of God. For without good fertilizer, nothing can grow to its full potential.

Again, thank you for this marvelous posting, my friend.

Honora said...

A beautiful reflection. :-) I live on the banks of a greatly-treed river, and I just love when a leaf skips along the tops of wind-ruffled ripples.. I will not like it, however, when the river freezes over and becomes dull, grey, hard.. but that's also the only time we can lay our faces against the river. Or maybe that is a gift for the river itself-- to feel the bodily heft of those made in its Creator's image and likeness. Well, we'll see if that sweet new thought will get me graciously through dreadful winter, lol.

by the bay said...

I get a wonderful delight from the knowledge we have God's permission to be joyful, and that the various paths we take in spiritual life all lead to joy, in this world or the next. You wrote a beautiful and nourishing post.

Warmest blessings
Eleanor n/TSSF

Rashfriar said...

Thank you for your posts and observations. This is a blessing.