We are coming into a wonderful time of the year — fall, when the seasons change and nature demonstrates the wonder and beauty of God as leaves turn from green to gold and crimson. It’s a magical time with children jumping in piles of leaves, checking their sleds and winter gear ready for the first snowfall.
Parents may not be quite as thrilled about raking and disposing of those leaves, but they can’t help but remember their own childhood adventures.
Driving the highways of the diocese, I see grain farmers harvesting corn and beans and probably hoping for a good price as they truck their crops to market. People in many of the communities have assembled pumpkins in their yards, both real and reusable, perhaps looking forward to a time to turn those pumpkins into pies for a family dinner.
As we reflect on these times of change, we could be negative and beat the drums of “the terrible state our country is in” because it’s easy to see divisiveness in so many areas of life — and no, I’m not going to talk about the election that will, mercifully, be over soon. Civility has certainly be lost by those who ask to be our leaders, and I hope some vestige of it will return once the candidates have become the elected officials. We will know soon enough.
We need to find our joy, our hope, and for that we turn to our families and our families of faith. Even if we must face challenges with our children, our grandchildren, our parents or other relatives, we must look for that small slice of hope that lies within us. For some, faith and hope are in desperately short supply, and most Pollyannas have been shouted down and out over and over, but we can’t give up.
So many people serve as examples to us: those who find the time to volunteer in all manner of times and places: those who visit the home bound or bring Communion to the hospitals and nursing homes, those who prepare and serve meals to the hungry, those who care for the dying. We know many people who personify the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, and they are generally the people who prefer to go about their faith-filled business without fanfare or notice. Even if we say a small prayer for them to continue their work and their example to the rest of us, that would be enough.
We must seek joy and be a hope for others. Being open to learning about others, especially those who seek refuge with us sounds like a small thing, but it may not be easy for everyone. Over the years, many have sought refuge here, and some were more welcomed than others. These days, we seem to be more afraid than ever of those who ask us to save them from certain death in their countries of birth. It’s not easy to be open, to be people of hope and welcome, but we have to try; we have to look to the Gospel and remember the Samaritan.
It’s a season of change, of preparation for winter, of hope for the future. May we be open to the season.