Submitted by: Father Peter Ullrich, O.S.B., St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church
I have been the pastor of St. Paul the Apostle in Tarkio (along with St. Benedict parish in Burlington Junction) since February 2016. I do not live at either parish but drive to the two churches on Sunday morning. I live at Conception Abbey, way over in the southeast corner of Nodaway County. It’s approximately 50 miles from Tarkio to the Abbey. Thus every Sunday for the last two years I have made the trip from Conception to Tarkio, with a stop at Burlington Junction along the way.
One of the nice features of this is that I see clearly before my eyes the gradual changing of seasons, the change that takes place from one week to the next, one month to another. How the land goes from brown and seemingly lifeless (Winter) to gradually greening of the fields, the promising look as springtime approaches, the growing season itself and then the beauty of the fall harvest and the gradual going to sleep of the land. This is all part of the unique gift of living in this part of the country where there are four seasons.
Psalm 65:11: … you provide for the earth: you drench its furrows; you level it, soften it with showers; you bless its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Abundance flows in your pathways; in pastures of the desert it flows.
The seasons of the year set the stage for the growing season each year. What we see growing on the earth is a strong sign of a time of favor, a time of bounty. The grayish brown fields of February and March are pushing us each year to the time of new growth. As April and May unfold, the earth is coming back to life. Seeds are planted, row upon row of crops planted in the hope of a bountiful growing season. The months of June, July, and August are that time of the year when the crops of the field grow tall and strong which leads to the harvest time – September through November. Then follows winter, when the earth sleeps, or so it seems. Just as with us, we need the down time in order to have more productive time – we need rest and sleep.
We can take a lesson from the earth around us, and especially those who work the land, to see that there really is a time for everything under the sun. To plant, to gather, to dance, to weep, to be joyful, to be mindful of losses, etc. A simple drive through the countryside, far from being a rather “boring” thing, can easily help us see just how the Lord blesses the earth and us as well. In other words, we have to allow ourselves the time and space to step back and look around us, see what is happening – both on the surface and deeper (deeper in our hearts). And in all cases see the hand of God guiding us and our lives. And so we say – … you provide for the earth: you drench its furrows; you level it, soften it with showers; you bless its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Abundance flows in your pathways; in pastures of the desert it flows. And as the Lord blesses the earth with bounty, so does God bless each of us – and we grow stronger and deeper each year of grace that God gives us.