Whatever this is, perhaps a kind of Tulip Tree or Magnolia, it tries to bloom with a zillion blooms in early-mid-February, with many bursting out, only to end up frozen solid. It did get down to nine degrees below freezing the other week, but, it seems, that wasn’t enough to kill these guys off. This tree is about 35 yards from the rectory.
Many people see the beauty of this tree. Saint Paul says in Romans 1 that all of creation shouts out that Almighty God is Creator of all, and is intelligent, and loving, and wants us to love Him and each other. As I say, many people see the beauty of this tree.
But many do not. They do not want to see the beauty of creation all around them, not this tree, not the paradise of the national forests and mountains and rivers and lakes and wild-life. They do not want to hear creation shouting out that Almighty God is Creator of all, and is intelligent, and loving, and wants us to love Him and each other.
As it is, there has been quite a bit of violence near this very tree in the past year or so. One event in particular included a druggie lifting a cinder-block-sized stone above his head so as to smash it down on a four year old girl, in broad daylight, with her extremely capable and loving father standing next to her. That violent action of the druggie was brought to a stop forthwith. Everyone is alive and healthy.
Some points about seeing the beauty of creation and, therefore, our loving, intelligent God:
- We can be fascinated with the laws of nature and, if we are honest, proclaim with exhilaration that God is a Creator who uses reason and, because everything fits so perfectly well together, we can see that God is, obviously, love. That realization, being awestruck and in thanksgiving, is an occasion to be brought to repentance for not always having been up to fulling that obligation. That realization is an essential start, a sine qua non. It could be that we will be receptive of such graced understanding and take another step. Seeing things and thanking God for them is one thing. But it’s a kind of peripheral experience. It can be done with faith and reason and it’s all good. But there is another step.
- Being filled with the love of God, we walk in His presence whilst we are in this world – no beatific vision, no! – but we know that we are in a bond of love with God who is love. He’s is the Creator of all. He holds us in being. He has redeemed all with salvation being for those who want it. And then, in such friendship (Jesus said: I call you friends), we also see God’s beauty everywhere, even in the violent druggie about to murder the little girl recounted above. How’s that? It’s not that the druggie or his violence is beautiful. No. God’s hates the sinner as a sinner and the sin, but with a love that may bring that sinner to be a sinner no longer. God wills that such a monster is redeemed; God wills that should it be that such a monster wills to be saved, then that monster will be saved. That’s beautiful. Just because that monster wills to be on the dark side (for now, anyway) does not mean that the children of light cannot see God’s goodness and kindness. Don’t get me wrong. I say that when POTUS Trump said that MS 13 are animals, he was wrong; they – and anyone who is a sinner in their sin – is less than an animal. I mean, animals are great. They do what they are created to do. If we sin, we don’t do what we are created to do, and so we are less than the animals. To call people in their sin animals is untrue because it is too generous, flattering. I wish Trump would be more incisive with his insults. It would do us all a lot of good.
Meanwhile, these are flowers for the Immaculate Conception, because that’s how I see it, even there are those who do not not, at least right now. Mary saw that scene of near-murder next to that tree. Mary saw the murder of her own Son from beneath another tree, on Calvary. A flower for you, Mary, who walked in God’s presence upon this earth. A flower for you, Mary, who intercede for us that we might do the same.