The Cycles of Life Connect Us to Our Creator


Years ago, I came upon a small, yet I believe significant, revelation.  I had grown up in the country my entire life, the daughter of parents who had both grown up on Indiana farms.  Living a life close to nature came, well, naturally to me and my siblings. 

In the summer we tended our garden, watching the fruits of our labors grow from seeds to delicious vegetables.  We spent hours outdoors, catching lightning bugs, praying mantis, walking sticks – whatever we could find.  We spent Fall amongst the colorful leaves. Collecting and pressing them as keepsakes, or raking them in piles for a joy-filled jump.  Winter brought the snow which meant opportunities for snowball fights and snow forts.  And with the thaw of spring, we found ourselves renewed with the sweet smells of budding trees, shrubs, and flowers.  The changes of the seasons seamed so normal and natural to me that I took it for granted.  That was until I went away for college. 

Seasonal Change

My freshman year I lived on campus in a midwestern city.  In traveling across Indiana to my new college home, my dad and I passed by countless fields of corn and soybeans, the crops drenched in the bright summer sun.  The trees waved in the gentle breezes, full of nature’s verdant foliage.  All of this was a very familiar sight to my 18-year-old self.  Which is why I was caught by surprise when, just a little over two months later, when being driven home for fall break, I felt so bothered.  You see, the fields had all been harvested.  Gone were the tall stalks of corn, the waves of soybeans had vanished.  And since I had no car on campus, I had missed it. 

I had missed the browning of the corn, the golden fields of beans.  I had missed the farmers in the fields, combining into the dark of night.  It all felt unnerving, unsettling.  It’s not like I didn’t know that autumn had arrived, as around campus the trees were turning gorgeous hues of red, orange and gold.  I think it was that for the first time in my life, what had been a significant part of this seasonal change, was absent to me.  And that’s when I realized that perhaps my growing up surrounded by the cycles of nature had a greater influence in my life than I had ever recognized. 

Connection

I’ve gone back to this memory many times over the years, pondering it’s meaning, considering why this experience, which at first glance seems so insignificant, would have had such an effect upon me.  In the years since, I think I’ve come to understand why this struck me so.  It seems to me that there is a connection between human persons and the entirety of creation, as all life owes its existence to the author of life, our Creator God.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that this same God, a God which brings order out of chaos, would beget a world in which there are distinct patterns and cycles for all of creation.

Two Books

In 1991 Pope St. John Paul II paid a visit to the Dolomite Mountain region of northern Italy.  There, in the midst of breathtaking vistas, he addressed those gathered, saying, “The rhythms of creation are so many paths of extraordinary beauty along which the sensitive and believing heart easily catches the echo of the mysterious, loftier beauty, that is God Himself, the Creator, the source and life of all reality.”  This hearkens back to something I’ve encountered from one of my favorite saints, St. Augustine, who recognized that Christians can discover God through two books, the book of Sacred Scripture, and the book of nature.  For it is through contemplating nature, its order, goodness and beauty, that we can come to know more about God.

Rhythms

These rhythms of life are not relegated to the changing seasons, the growth and harvest of a vegetable gardens, or the arrangement of the stars in the night sky.  For those of us who use natural family planning, these natural rhythms are more readily seen and acknowledged.  They’re written into our feminine bodies by the Author of Life.  From the time a young woman begins her menses, to the waning years of her fertility, there’s a cycle, an ebb and flow, to the nature of her body. 

I can readily acknowledge that these cyclical changes in a woman’s body can be frustrating, daunting, while also beautiful and mysterious, all rolled into one.  There are times when I’ve taken these rhythms for granted, much like my growing up amongst the green fields in Indiana.  There are other times when I’m left in awe. Awe at how my body can do such incredible and miraculous things, such as bringing new life into this world.  All of these patterns point us to a loving Creator, who has imbued us as well as all of creation with the same order, beauty, and goodness which are an outpouring of Himself. 

Trials

But what about those times when these rhythms of life become challenging and difficult?  Times such as infertility, cycle irregularities, or even entering into menopause?  How does one find peace in the middle of such a trial?  I think there is wisdom here in discovering our connection to our Creator again.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 341, shares, “The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will.” 

There are going to be moments in our life when trying times can make God feel distant, when our minds cannot comprehend how God can allow such difficulties to disrupt what He naturally created for good.  Yet these are exactly the times when we need to submit and surrender ourselves to our Lord Jesus, who Himself was no stranger to the pains and suffering that life brings.  And like our Savior, taking the time to connect to creation through nature, whether it’s through hiking through the hills, riding on the waves, or picking fruit from trees, is an important way to remind us of the infinite truth, beauty, and goodness of God.  Enjoying creation has a way of grounding us in what is really important in life, in connecting us to things beyond ourselves, in opening our eyes to the mystery, wonder, and love who is God Himself. 

Take Time

So, in the midst of life, with all of its commotion and chaos, remember to take time to connect with creation, whether by going for walks in the park, planting a garden, birdwatching, really whatever suits you.  Don’t allow these moments of contemplating our Creator God in nature, of recognizing our own life’s cycles and rhythms, to pass by unnoticed.


Written by Susan Hoefer. Originally published in CCL’s Family Foundations. Susan Hoefer, married for 22 years, is the mother of four children. She has been a CCL teacher with her husband for many years. She has been working in the Diocese of Lafeyette-in-Indiana for over 12 years, promoting natural family planning, chastity, and pro-life causes, assisting couples preparing for marriage, and empowering parents to live out their God-given role as primary educators of their children in the faith.  When she’s not working for the diocese, Susan uses her gift of gab, love of music, and her sense of hospitality to help those around her come to personally know and love Jesus.