Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lord of all creation

UMD's Catholic Student Center had a retreat this weekend and it was awesome (except for the bad weather). Planning had taken place for 6 weeks beforehand and lots of work was put in to it. But one of the most profound things I took away from the retreat was one or two sentences someone spoke almost under their breath in between sessions.

Fr. Gareth was exposing the Blessed Sacrament and Fr. Bill's dogs, Maggie and Cleo, were walking around as usual. Everyone was kneeling. Fr. Bill called Maggie over to him gently and told her, "Maggie, get down, it's Our Lord. It's Our Lord, Maggie."

Wow, I thought, that's pretty cool. And it is. Sometimes we're so concerned with ourselves that we fail to recognize the blessings God has placed all around us. The Blessed Sacrament doesn't deserve our adoration because of some archaic tradition of piety, but instead because it is Christ - the Lord Himself - truly present. All creation - not just human beings (though they do so most fully) - attest to its creator as God. The Blessed Sacrament didn't deserve just our reverence in kneeling in front of it, but the reverence of Maggie and Cleo, two black labs, too. The Lord may not have endowed the dogs with the reason and intellect to recognize His lordship, but their very existence is evidence of the fact that God is God.

The retreat center we use, at Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., is very conducive to this recognition. Nestled in the mountains, it lifts one's soul to God almost immediately. Creation is an awesome thing, and I think Catholics sometime fail to recognize this. All of creation has, in some form, the imprint of its Creator and is a great assistant in turning one's mind to contemplation. It is, in short, awe-inspiring. I think this unity of creation is one reason why so many non-Catholics find St. Francis of Assisi and his spirituality so appealing. I don't know Franciscan spiritually well by any means, but its emphasis on simplicity and recognition of all creation as the work of God must, I think, appeal to those who are searching for meaning.

So, a suggestion for spring and the upcoming Easter season: Take the time to take a walk by yourself, away from the business of your daily routine, and allow the beauty of creation itself to direct your mind and heart toward your Creator.