Each day from any window in our monastery, I can enjoy breathtaking natural beauty. From year to year subtle changes in the landscape easily go unnoticed. However, last spring the landscape changed dramatically due to the Macro Burst that swept through sections of Beacon and neighboring towns.
Since then each season has revealed a new landscape. More than at other seasons, though, I find that the barrenness of winter starkly reveals the extent of nature’s fury on that May afternoon. There is no foliage—no undergrowth, plants, bushes or leaves—to mask the loss. The woods surrounding us are cluttered with uprooted trees, chopped limbs and branches. Nevertheless, the storm created an immense opening to the sky which now allows me to witness exquisite winter sunsets.
As I stood watching a beautiful sunset one day, I began to reflect on the landscapes of our lives. Landscapes provide a familiar context in which our hearts and spirits thrive. Even birds and other animals confine themselves within particular boundaries for security and safety. Drastic events can suddenly change the landscapes of our lives, most significantly through the death of a loved one, an accident, a serious illness or natural disaster. At such times we are left feeling disoriented and afraid.
The human spirit, like nature, does heal, one season at a time. It is so like God to bring beauty to a damaged landscape through the gift of a sunset. And it is so like God to surprise us when the landscapes of our lives suddenly change, to gently lift our spirits and give us courage in unexpected ways. Like the new growth that eventually emerges, softening the barren landscape with color and fresh scents, we trust God to fill our hearts with hope and new meaning, to free our voices to sing anew in praise of God’s mercy, love and care for us.