Franciscan Joy: God's loving presence in nature
BY FR. DENNIS BOSSE, OFM
The whisper of wind through the trees; the gentle sound of water in a babbling brook; the thunderous roar of waves crashing onto a beach; the majesty of mountains reaching upward to the blue skies; falling snow covering the ground like a white blanket; the sound of birds; other images of nature calling us into the beauty of creation with which we are forever one and is one with us.
My love to be outdoors began with my parents encouraging us to go outside and play, and this play was in the form of baseball, football, basketball, kick-the-can, hide-and-go-seek and other games. In the summer and fall of 2017, I spent the first part of a sabbatical volunteering at the Red Canyon Visitor Center, located in the Dixie National Forest of Utah. I always wanted to do so because I enjoy being outdoors and am grateful to the Provincial Council for allowing me this opportunity.
Besides welcoming guests to the Visitor Center and forest, I walked the trails, picking up litter left behind by those hiking. The litter might be an empty plastic bottle, tissue, cigarette butts, etc... It was not much, but enough to detract from the beauty of the area much like litter on our streets where it is dumped by passing cars or pedestrians walking on the sidewalks. I cannot fathom this because my parents taught all of my brothers and sisters, as well as myself, to clean-up after ourselves and not leave it for someone else to do. In this "age of entitlement," this may seem to be the attitude of those who litter.
When I was not working, I was hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park, which was only 10 miles east of the visitor center. The majesty and power of this natural beauty is beyond words, and even with pictures taken, the photos will never fully capture what one is seeing and experiencing. Nevertheless, I found myself overwhelmed with the rock formations and trees throughout the park and further experienced God's loving and creative touch present. With this experience, I would either sit and pray, just be with what I was seeing, or "journal" about this with God upon my return.
Either way, I thanked God for this beauty and pray that all of creation is treated with respect and dignity. All of creation, therefore, comes forth from God in a loving expression, a Divine Spark, and transcends everything and everyone, remembering God saying lovingly, "This is good."
(Dennis Bosse is moving to Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, Ariz., and will soon begin a new assignment as Parochial Vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral parish.)