For you laid the foundations of the world
and have arranged for the changing of times and seasons;
you have formed man in your own image
and set humanity over the whole world in all its wonder,
to rule in your name over all you have made
and forever praise you in your mighty works (Preface V, Sundays in Ordinary Time).
Looking at the beauty of creation, “the changing of times and seasons” as one preface to the Eucharistic Prayer puts it, can remind us of the grandeur and glory of God. It can also give us clarity about God’s closeness.
The Psalmist in the Old Testament had a keen sense of God’s goodness as it permeated creation. Psalm 8 ponders: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4–5). With earth, and sea, and sky at God’s fingertips (note the delicate and intricate work ascribed to God’s fingers in Psalm 8), what does it mean that God has also “formed my inmost being” and “knit me in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13)? Psalm 74 recalls that the same God who “fixed all the limits of the earth” and “made summer and winter” (Ps 74:17) has given the gift of time in our lifetimes. The final Psalms call on “lightning and hail, snow and thick clouds, storm wind that fulfills his command; mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars” (Ps 148:8–9) to join “everything that has breath” (Ps 150:6) in giving praise to the Lord.
As the leaves begin to change colors and eventually drop, and as the temperatures will inevitably begin to change and drop, too, why not set aside some time and space for a conversation with the Lord of all time and space? The infinite God, who created everything by the mention of his Divine Word, his Son Jesus, is present and revealed in the splendor of creation. The goodness of a family trip to the apple orchard, the cider mill or the pumpkin patch can recall the goodness of God who is always at work and at play in creation (see Prov 8:30–31). The “many and various” colors of the changing trees, the lakes and the skies in southeast Michigan can speak to us as God “spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe” (Heb 1:2). The leaves that “fall to the ground and die” (John 12:24) remind us of the new life, the new springtime, that Jesus prepares for us in his kingdom where death will be no more (see Rev 21:4). What are some other ways to praise and thank God for the “changing of times and seasons”?
Sing some psalms. Look up the rest of Psalms 8, 74 and 148–150 referenced above. You can even throw in Psalms 19 and 104, too. The Psalms capture every human desire, emotion, situation and sentiment. The Psalter is a scriptural treasury for how to praise (and even how to lament and question) God. Many of them take creation as their starting point. How can you make God’s holy words your words in this season of grace?
Consider some canticles. Daniel 3:52–90 contains an extended canticle on creation, sung by the three youths in the fiery furnace. Even though they were surrounded by flames, they glorified and blessed (see Dan 3:51) God in the midst of their trial, imploring “every shower and dew, all you winds, fire and heat, cold and chill” (see Dan 3:64–67) to bless the Lord, too. Even as the days grow short in this season, God’s presence can bring warmth and light to your heart. Likewise, St. Francis of Assisi bids “all creatures of our God and King” to praise God in song in his Canticle of the Creatures.
Ponder some poetry. The professor, poet, and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins gave glory to “God for dappled things” in his poem “Pied Beauty” and noted that “the world is charged with the grandeur of God” in “God’s grandeur.” Spend some quiet moments with the verses of some good poetry to guide you into offering a prayer that you might always see God’s work in all creation.