Reflection by Laura Rainey, OFS
Article 18: “Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which
‘bear the imprint of the Most High,’ and they should strive to move from
the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of
I recently went on a week-long silent retreat. I had been going through a rough spot in my life, and hoped that the week would help me “reset” some things. One day, I went on a long walk and talked to God about how alone I feel at times, even though I have family and friends who I know love me. I talked about how I wish I could just be content with everything I already have. How I’m so tired of staring at screens all the time but they’re always there. How I’m so very tired of all the news and politics. How I want to feel what God wants me to feel, to see life the way God sees life. How much easier it was for Mary because she KNEW something special was happening to her – after all, an angel told her! It was a genuine old-fashioned pity party, and I said all of these things out loud to God on my walk… Then I turned around and started walking back. I was quiet for a long while, just looking at my feet and feeling sorry for myself. And then I heard God very clearly say to me, “Look up. Look at these trees. I created all of this for you. Whenever you feel lonely, look for me in the trees and I will be there. All of creation I made for you.” I walked over to a tree, I started touching the leaves, really looking at them as individual things, and I thought about how God made this leaf just for me to find in this moment. And there was a breeze, and the branch bent toward me as if to hug me! And the loneliness lifted. In that moment, I recognized that I’m never truly alone – but that when I have moments of feeling alone, I can look at the trees, at nature, and feel God’s love for me by the things he has created for me. It was an overwhelming experience of what can happen when you not only talk to God, but more importantly, when you’re quiet long enough to hear what God has to say.
After the retreat, I was sitting on my balcony reflecting on all the things I had experienced in that week, and I was struck by the following thought – God created nature for me to know his love. But he also created me to take care of nature. And by caring for the things that God has created, I show my appreciation for all the gifts I have received from him. St. Francis called all of creation “Brother” and “Sister.” Not just people, but the sun, the water, rocks, animals, fire, etc. Francis believed that all the purpose of all creatures is to be exactly what God made them to be, and in doing so, glorify the one who made them. As Franciscans, we are called to a concept of “universal kinship” – not worshipping our fellow creatures, but living in communion with them and worshipping the Creator together. And I realized that my purpose in life isn’t to be a “perfect” person or the “best worker” or anything like that. My purpose is to be Laura, and in doing so, I give glory to the God who created me just as I am.