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.