“Earth is crammed with heaven.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I flipped my daily calendar over the other day and was met with this gem from one of my favorite poets.
Earth is crammed with heaven.
Indeed, it is.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, another great poet, said the same thing, using different words:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
Every day. Every month. Every year. Every season.
And to back them both up, Jesus affirmed their vision, long before they were even born:
“The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
The truth is, we don’t have to wait until we die to catch a glimpse of the Kingdom the Creator has planned for us.
It begins now.
Right this very moment.
I think it is pretty safe to say currently that many of us who are awake these days are preoccupied with world affairs.
How can we not be?
Unless we don’t watch the news (something I strive for; it is too painful for me to watch), we hear about new political, environmental and economic catastrophes every day.
While the 24-hour news media and the internet are squabbling for our attention, not to mention high ratings, it seems they are doing a good job of diverting us from recognizing the truth Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago, which remains true today and forevermore.
All we have to do is turn off our electronics, get quiet for a moment, and look out our windows, or even better at our own homes, with the families and friends we share them.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I know life isn’t pretty all the time for most people.
None of us can get through this life without suffering in some way, or in many ways.
And yet, as long as we live, if we have the desire, we can open our eyes – physical and spiritual – and see another side to life.
We can catch a muted glimpse of the gift God is preparing for us for eternity.
For me, the turn of the calendar to September has always been an especially significant time to notice that Kingdom Jesus affirmed.
As the days cool, and the nights display their clear starry skies, the paper-thin veil between heaven and earth, begins to slowly draw back.
It is no secret to regular readers of this column that autumn is my favorite season, and I think that is why.
In the autumn, we see leaves change colors and then lose themselves to the inevitable oncoming winter.
The trees metamorphose right before our eyes.
For these few months, we see these leaves dance in the wind through their death, on the way to rebirth.
Something inside of them reassures them this seasonal death is not the end.
Life will continue.
They just know it.
In addition to this glorious display of nature, fall woos us with apple orchard visits, harvested fields, flannel shirts, pumpkins, and, for many, football.
Truly a fleeting season to breathe in and allow to reinforce its annual visit in every part of our being.
By the time November rolls around, that veil I mentioned is fully pulled back and the connection between those of us living on earth, and those ancestors we remember, is as close as it can be this side of eternity.
The Church celebrates All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, when we celebrate and honor all those in the Mystical Body of Christ who have transitioned to the other side.
(I probably shouldn’t be writing about those days now, because I’m sure when they roll around I will want to write about them again, but I cannot help myself.)
Maybe this annual seasonal gift of fall and these annual dates on the church calendar aren’t coincidental after all.
Maybe there is more meaning to them than we think.
Maybe, if we look and listen closely, with all the chattering noise around us turned off, we will hear the flap of angels' wings reminding us of one great truth, before we drift into the dead of winter.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at email@example.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.