May 5, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Springtime reverie reflects on wonders of nature

Standing in a timeworn Indiana cemetery amid hundreds of tombstones for women religious in southern Indiana, I reveled in the remarkable weather.

That day, I was companion to my husband as he photographed a few scenes. Unfortunately, we have no idea where those photos are stored now. Nor does it matter, for something else engraved itself in my memory.

A beautiful pine tree stood nearby, but I took little notice of it until suddenly, with a quiet “poof,” something burst into the air, drifting into the breeze.

I stood in awe, and Paul explained that the tree was releasing its seed. Only later, when talking with a nature expert, did I learn more. Weather conditions must be just right before this can happen, and it is not a sight that many folks see.

The expert laughingly chided me for not knowing this since I—a mother of three daughters—certainly understood “the birds and the bees.” Of course!

Yet, human experience is much different than nature’s, for love is the normal force behind procreation. Working with God to bring children into our lives is sacramental and holy. This cannot be compared to Mother Nature’s propagating forces.

Or am I wrong?

How can I know exactly why the forces of nature do what they do when they do? How can I not say that this is sacramental and holy, too, since God has crucial hand in this? Of course, now humans and animals and plants can multiply with or without Godly intent, yet the source of each life produced—human or not—is still God.

I do not dare get into a theological or scientific discussion of this because the subject is well beyond my knowledge.

When I was a student at the former Academy of Notre Dame in Belleville, Ill., a friend, Kathy, and I entered a project about chlorophyll in a science fair. Then, I could explain exactly how and why chlorophyll works. Now I am content to know it exists as a benefit from God.

In spring, I am reminded of life’s constant renewal. I love beauty in any area and during any season, and I am aware of beauty in every season and era whether animate, inanimate or, most important, human. Although I still continue to learn—and, in fact, from time to time toy with the idea of returning to college for a graduate degree—I am also content to be content. I hope I can remain that way whenever life’s inevitable storms surface in the future.

I can only pray that the transition into eternal life is as gentle as a pine tree “poofing” into renewal—or a rose opening—or … .

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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