I love to walk in the local botanic garden. The minute I step inside, tension leaves me. God’s creation acts as a salve and even my deepest distress is soothed. Things are put in their proper perspective when compared to the forces of nature. Right now, the last of the spectacular fall colors are leaving the trees and a calm waiting is beginning. There is promise in the leaves that fall to the soil to fertilize the future.

For me, the garden is a place that brings today’s Gospel home in a real way:  “…he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive”. The plants are our teachers.  There is life even in what seems to be death.  The seasons change but always within that change is the life force of the Spirit.

Time is such a task master for our society that the notion of a God who does not count the minutes, a God who is timeless and limitless, whose ways are not our ways, is hard to accept.  Can we truly believe that nothing and no one is lost? Can we know, in our heart of hearts, that those who have gone before us live in the Lord and that we, too, are on a journey to that sacred union? Nature reveals the truth of Christ’s promise – that death can bring new and abundant life. What a difference that makes in dying. What a gift.

—Pam Coster is Executive Director of Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality. www.charisministries.org