God’s love is extravagant. God seems to have created with abandon. Who can count the number of the stars, the variety of hues in an autumn-colored maple tree, the intricacies of a design in a butterfly wing, the marvels in one person, the good that can come from a tragedy? But so much of God’s abundance and splendor in creation is “wasted!” It is unused, even unnoticed.
Several years ago, I walked in a densely vegetated woods. The quiet muffled the bird songs and the nearby stream. The lush moss, the variety of tree bark, the gracious but firm binding of a boulder in a network of tree roots, the interplay of light and shadow across my path stopped me to listen, ponder and give thanks. I thought, “Such waste! There is so much beauty here that no one sees, and yet it is! Here the death-life movement occurs in the cycle of growth of which few people are aware!” I believe God knows. I trust God delights in creation, evidence of the overflow of God’s love.
I left the woods with an air of silence and wonder along with questions gnawing for attention. What does such a world-in-the-woods say about who God is and what God does? What’s my first reaction when God is quiet, or I can’t hear anything at all? I might be tempted to think God has abandoned me. Do I know how to listen and what to listen for? What holds me caught in acquiring things and experiences that often push me into overload of too much stuff that consumes and scatters my energy so my senses cannot serve me? How can I become free of hoarding my time and energy rather than generously sharing it with others? Do I fear they will run out? The world of the woods I have witnessed is threatened by people who fail to respect it, who see it as a world to be used to their advantage. The cumulative effect of many people holding nature in the grip of usefulness and disrespect can be devastating. What do I need to change in my day-to-day living to reduce my contribution to such harm? What can I do to open my senses so I can be moved to wonder and respect for a world that is mine and not mine? How can I share more fully in giving God’s extravagant love, to assist it to overflow into all creation?
Even with these questions unanswered, I can sing–with others–some of the words at the heart of Psalm 107: “Let them celebrate God’s love, all the wonders revealed to them.”
Mary Reuter, OSB
Photo: Taken by Chas Reuter