Fall leaves grace our nature table. The seasons are changing, and so is my family. My youngest children delight in placing their pine cones just so into their basket. My 6-year-old pauses to touch the pretty leaves and sings a happy tune as she goes on her way. My 9-year-old’s generous heart loves adding coins to our St. Francis jar as we collect money to help our favorite charities. And my 11-year-old suddenly seems light years ahead of such simple childhood wonders.
There is a mysterious connection between the natural world and our human bodies. There is a rhythm, a cycle, that cannot be duplicated. The great Creator who turns the leaves is the same Creator who is turning my children into adults. And while they won’t always pause to arrange pine cones or notice a brilliant leaf, they’ll still be aware of the great Artist–the One who can create a beauty like none other. They’ll see it in their bodies, in the good they are able to accomplish, and as our family works to repair the Church like St. Francis, the works of mercy will connect the desires of our hearts with the urges of our bodies.
Our “Repair My Church” folder is a place to hold ideas, contact information, and plans of action for our family’s works of mercy. And along the way, these works of mercy will inspire conversations about hunger for real love, thirst for relationship, why clothing is a symbol of the dignity of the body, how a vocation can give purpose and a future to the homeless, why the body deserves respect even if it is sick and vulnerable, how we can give hope to the imprisoned, and how burying the dead points to the reunion of body and soul in our heavenly home.
These are the concepts that my 11-year-old can start to comprehend. These are the concepts that are planted in the hearts of my younger children by leaves and pine cones. Because when we take the time to notice the hand of God in the smallest leaf, we will be more aware of the hand of God in every fiber of our being.