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Faces on Faith: Forces beyond our control

By Staff | Nov 9, 2012

Rev. Thomas E. Nyman

John Donne, the 16th Century metaphysical poet, the sometimes Catholic and sometimes Anglican, Englishman wrote, “In heaven it is always autumn; His mercies are ever in their maturity.”

I wonder. Autumn?

There is a small country railroad that runs from Osceola, Wisc., to Marine on St. Croix, Minn. It is called the Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway and is run by the Minnesota Transportation Museum.

Summer had been splendid in the upper midwest and I had every reason to believe that autumn would fall into the same category. I consulted our local meteorologists as to when would be prime time for observing the fall colors of the changing deciduous leaves along the St. Croix River.

I pinpointed the time and invited some friends to join my wife, Linda, and me, on a train ride through a roadless portion of the St. Croix River Valley. A week before the determined time, a determined wind began to blow out of the north and west sending most of our pretty leaves from the trees of Minnesota to the plains of Iowa and the moraines of Wisconsin.

That was not part of the plan, but we persevered and we rode our train through the woods even though the sun hid from us and the winds continued to exercise their power.

There were other treasures to be seen than the ones we expected. There was more openness than we expected. We saw signs of wilderness and signs of former lodgings. We saw rugged beauty and signs of the battle of forces far beyond our control. We saw a few snowflakes.

I have tended to romanticize autumn. I still remember a verse I memorized in high school praising the beauty of things autumnal.

A haze on the far horizon,

The infinite, tender sky,

The ripe rich tint of the cornfields,

And the wild geese sailing high —

And all over upland and lowland

The charm of the golden-rod —

Some of us call it Autumn

And others call it God.

by William Herbert Carruth

We were hoping the winds of October and November would be kind to us. There were signs that would not be.

Then, along came Superstorm Sandy, reminding us that weather is transitory and that our appreciation for God and nature best not depend upon favorable conditions.

It is my hope that we will see our autumnal God in the courage and strength God gives to those experiencing a season of change, to those stricken by storm, and to those moved to respond to the needs of others.

I am certain that many of our Island friends will want to help those stricken. Please consult your spiritual leader and give your prayers and your financial gifts through your congregation or through RedCross.org.