The expanding universe. Photo by NASA

As we move past Labor Day, now fully into September, we begin to feel a bit of shifting in the weather. The humidity is improving. The “autumn rains are covering the road to Jerusalem with blessings,” as the Psalms say. There is a turning, a change in the air, a newness about this season.

A witness to newness was given by the CFO of St. John the Baptist Province, David O’Brien, at St. Francis Seraph Church this past weekend. In front of his family, some of the friars, the church community—and God—David offered to live the rest of his life as a Secular Franciscan. He promised to live a life of conversion, of turning again and again to God. Our way of life as Franciscans is not a declaration that we now finally have it all together. Quite the opposite! It is a clear calling out that finally we have found that we are in need of God and want to love back with a little of the fierceness with which we have been loved. We are loved sinners and stand in the humility of that relationship. We belong to God, in “whom we live, move and have our being”.

Autumn leaves

Photo by

Fall is a season of gathering the harvest. As we begin to hunker down into colder weather, we also might gather our latest book we’ve wanted to read, or that Netflix movie that we just never got to. It’s a time to reflect on the bounty that God has worked in our own lives. This season can lead to Thanksgiving, to praise, to reconciliation with those whom we’ve offended, or even those who have offended us. It’s a potential season to realize that the incredible divides in our country and Church do not define us, even as we make decisions to vote. These divisions cannot keep us locked in hatred towards others, or excuse us from reaching out to those different from our perspective. What gives us our identity is the experience of being loved by God. And this mystical knowledge also claims every other human being, and all of creation!

A point of turning this year for me was seeing the James Webb picture of the expanding universe. It was breathtaking for me. And it left me in wonderment of such a God who delights in ever changing newness, who it seems is infinitely interested in our little blue marble of a planet and all that lives upon it. Somehow atomic structures are not too small, nor this blue planet insignificant. The things that I believe are so important just pale in comparison to this expanding cosmos. Yet, all of us are so exquisite and attractive to God. And it seems that God takes interest in even my “important plans” with care for me, us, all of creation.