I read this article in our Observer newspaper this week. I thought it was beautiful and so timely. It really touched me and I thought I would share it with you. I asked for permission to put it on my blog and it was given. Last week was the beginning of the Catholic Year of Faith for we Catholics. The Year of Faith is striving to get us back in touch with the basics of our Catholic identity and the devotions, the community celebrations, the shared love of the Eucharist that is at the core of our beings. We should look at faith as a lifelong companion.....one that we can share with people of all faiths.
Finding Faith in Fall Colors by Penny Wiegert...editor of the Observer...the Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, Illinois
I am convinced that the fall colors of the trees this year are the most beautiful, most vibrant I have ever seen. I am quite sure I never fully appreciated the transformation of the lush green of spring and summer into the warm amber, rich burgundy, sun-kissed yellow and glowing orange of fall. Perhaps, it's my advancing age that helps me pause to appreciate God's color palette.
My husband and I traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to attend the 100th anniversary of Our Sunday Visitor several weeks ago, and to avoid the stress and congestion of the Chicago expressways, we decided to take a more rural route. As the road twisted and turned through a canopy of trees the sun helped highlight the first ignitions of the fiery colors of fall.
The banks of color that lined the road brought to mind how similar the trees and their colors are to the human race and our faith. The brilliant variations became, for me, a kind of meditation. It was striking how many of the trees remained green while the others stood out, bathed in bright colors. But it was the background of green that allowed the reds, yellows, and oranges to stand out.
It occurred to me that people are a lot like that too. There are many who stand out among a crowd. Those that stand in the background often look on the others with a sense of envy at their ability to shine and be different and be noticed and admired. But the envy is misplaced because it is a fact that without the steady, reliable nature of those that "stay behind the scenes" there never would be the brighter stars to shine. Appreciation is born of opposition--- to know quiet we need to know loud; to know bright we need dark; to know soft we need rough.
In Scripture we can see this illustrated for us when we read Paul's letter to the people of Corinth, where he uses the example of the body and the example of the unity and variety of gifts. These passages tell us that we need each other and all the skills or lack thereof to be a whole people and whole society. We need each other in order to emit the brilliance of God's plan, just as the trees of fall emit a lush visual banquet for the eye.
It is considerably appropriate that the Year of Faith begins in the beauty of fall. As we reflect on the changing seasons, I think we can apply that experience of transition to ourselves. We can choose to use all the resources and opportunities available to transform into a deeper appreciation of all the aspects of our faith and not just the "star" which is the Mass. We can journey closer to Christ and where he is in our lives so that we can experience a new embrace for the gift of the Eucharist.
And as I continue to appreciate the opulence of the fall colors, I think we should use that example to appreciate the faith our fellow Christians possess. We can try to use the brilliance of faith we may see in others and their example to inspire us to shine and stand out just like the turned trees. During the next year, we can strive to share our faith story with someone, or perhaps just share our appreciation for theirs.
Try talking to God and talking to each other in faith and about faith. Take the admiration for your faith opposite and put it to use for the unity and value of the whole Church. Perhaps that conversation can assist us all in transforming ourselves and bring forth a faith that is strong and brilliant and can wash the world in a new season of faith, hope, and love that will last long after the Year of Faith is gone.