In a recent post, “Come to Me….and I Will Give You Rest”, I admitted I was embarrassed about not being very spiritual, or taking the time to pray, study and live Jesus before others while on vacation; and how I realized, by reading Matthew’s Gospel, that the Lord is more concerned about my return to him than He is about my spiritual absence for a brief period.
When I broke it down I understood why I felt the way I did – our two weeks were chocker-block full of activity. We drove almost 4,300 miles. When we weren’t driving we were spending time with family. When I was doing neither of those I was intent on catching as many trout as possible. In essence, I got away from my daily routine of taking time to pray and read scripture.
I had nearly written off posting anything else about my trip until a fortunate occurrence last Friday morning. I was on our mission trip to Appalachian Kentucky and I arose early to meet my friend Clay in the dining hall for morning prayers at 5:40 a.m. After we prayed a rosary together, Clay handed me a book, pointed to a page, and said, “Here, read this”.
The book was The Seven Storey Mountain, the autobiography of the Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton. The page contained a passage that particularly caught Clay’s attention:
“There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and mercy of God to the whole world.”
When I read that paragraph I couldn’t help but look upwards and say, “Thank you, Lord”. In that moment I understood. Even though I felt I had, for the most part, neglected God those two weeks while on vacation, he had still been present to me. But, I was too busy then to see it.
God was present in the spectacular geology of the Beartooth Range of the Rocky Mountains between Red Lodge and Yellowstone National Park.
He was present in the clear mountain streams which provide an abundance of rainbow and brown trout; and in the fish themselves, unique creatures that cause us anglers to dream of that heavenly moment when, through practiced skill, we entice one to rise and dine on a #14 Pale Morning Dun.
God was there in the spectacular and varied flora to be seen in every view: columbines, indian paint brushes, and small alpine wild flowers growing out of the cracks in the igneous rock of the mountains. He was there in the fauna we saw during hikes and drives through the mountains: bison, elk, deer, black bear, eagles, and marmots.
And, of course, He was there in our children and beautiful grandchildren with whom we spent a few precious days.
Lord, please help us to not get caught up in the busy-ness of life but to always remember Your presence: in our loving families, in the caring people we meet, in the beautiful landscapes artistically brushed with color, and in the unique creatures with whom we share this earth. Please help us to always recognize Your greatness and the work of Your hands, and to always be grateful for Your abundant Grace and Mercy. Amen.
(The Greatness and Mercy of God was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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