Reflect Emmanuel

Reflect Emmanuel

Reflect Emmanuel is a series of Advent meditations on Emmanuel, our God with us

December 17, 2013

Cynthia Fowler, Professor of Art

From the Responsorial Psalm:

“Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.

The mountains shall yield peace for the people, and the hills justice.”

This passage has brought me to reflect upon the power of nature. During the winter months, we tend to spend more time inside, watching nature from our windows, within the warm comfort of our homes. What brings us out into nature in the cold month of December? Maybe the annual trip to find the perfect Christmas tree for the holiday? Or a solstice celebration outdoors on the shortest day of the year? Maybe it has nothing to do with the holidays. A weekend of skiing or snowboarding. Or skating on Frog Pond in the Boston Garden.

In each case, we are brought out into the cold, away from the warm world that we have constructed and into a world created for us by nature. Even nature impacted by climate change can have a profound effect on us. For instance, when we are confronted by a strong, cold gust of wind that chills, or feel a damp snow penetrating even the warmest of boots to dampen our feet. That chill, that frostbite, can often serve to wake us up. Our body alerted by the cold, alerts our mind and spirit. We are fully alive in that moment.

Franz Kafka, of all people, observed, "You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." Kafka is right, of course. We don't need to leave our homes. But sometimes an encounter with nature, where peace and justice reside, is the perfect place to be when we desire renewal of the spirit. May all of our spirits be renewed in this season that anticipates new light.

Artist Richard Long created works of art by quietly walking in nature. His walk in the Himalayas would be an amazing one to take.