Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Extravagance of a Fall Leaf

The vibrant burnt-orange leaf captures my attention and holds it. I stop in my path, contemplating whether I will pick it up. Around it, other leaves scatter their crimson, auburn, and gold on the pavement. Which one is the most stunning? Having taken the moment to notice this exquisite beauty, I linger. The day quiets around me as I become more and more aware of God’s creation and the holy within it.

I love the fall in the northeast. The riotous colors of autumn leaves never cease to delight me. What an outrageous gift, that God would endow the trees with the ability to surrender their summer growth with such magnificence. “Just look at those trees!” I exclaimed to my daughter as we left the house this morning. “You smile every time you walk out the door these days,” she commented. I hadn’t realized. Now, as I contemplate this single leaf and its place in the divine economy, I think of my own life held in God’s hands. Are not the transitions in human life also evidence of God’s extravagance? “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30) As we cycle through the seasons, as we age, surrender, make new beginnings, we also show forth the beauty of God’s creation. We embody loveliness. The glory of God that shines forth in a fall leaf also emanates from each human being, each of us created in God’s image.

The wind and rain of the day will hurry the leaves off the branches and soon bare twigs will cut patterns across a pale winter sky. I hope I notice that moment too. I pray I will stop then, and give thanks to God. For the beauty of creation, for the rhythm of the seasons, for the gift of time and the experience that comes with aging. For the ability to delight in a single fall leaf, again, and again, and again.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spirituality of Children, Spirituality of All

Young children have a spiritual self, just as they have physical and emotional selves. They are already known and loved by God, and research tells us that they in turn have an awareness of God. Children are not empty vessels waiting for adults to tell them about God and fill them with theological knowledge. They are already relating to God. Thus, an important role of caring adults is to guide children to explore their relationship with God.

What is true about children is true about human beings. Whether adults or teens or wise elders or infants, we are known and loved by God. Each of us is a complete and complex human being. None of us is passively waiting for someone to fill our heads with theological understanding. Rather, I suspect most of us are hungry for guidance as we try to understand our relationship with God and how that relationship informs our everyday lives. Regardless of age or experience, we all can use encouragement and guidance to expand our relationship with God.

Church congregations are one of the few places in our culture where multiple generations interact with each other with mutual purpose; congregations have a unique opportunity to actively support the spiritual formation of all ages. When we respect and nurture the spiritual lives of children in our parishes, we strengthen the entire community. When we worship together, learn and play together, reach out to those in need together, we can guide each other as we spread the love of Christ.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2013