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“Soundings” – The Sacrament of Falling Leaves

It is autumn, my favorite season.  The beauty of it, for those with eyes to see, threatens to undo us.   This is the sentiment of Edna St. Vincent Millay in her poem, in autumn, ‘God’s World’:

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!  Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

…Lord, I do fear,
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, — let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Here, surrounded by falling leaves, Millay is sending God a message:  Don’t let any more leaves fall or I shall be consumed by glory!   I will be immolated by the fiery passion this beauty is birthing!

But in those same falling leaves, is there any message that God is sending us?

Walt Whitman’s observes, “I find letters from God dropped in the street, and everyone of them signed by God’s name.”

Fr. Ernesto Cardenal reflects further on this that the leaf is a fragrant handkerchief that bears God’s monogram in one corner, and he dropped it intentionally to remind us of him.  He  goes on, “We find initials of God in all nature, and all creatures are God’s messages of love addressed to us.  They are flashes of his love.  All nature is aflame with love, created by love in order to kindle love.  This is the reason for being of all beings…all things speak to us of God.”  (To Live Is to Love)

Finding God in all things–this is the sacramental life.   Things that are visible and tangible to our senses more and more become the vehicles whereby we are able to see the invisible and hold in our hands the intangible.   The sacramental life is where the invisible becomes more real than the visible, the spiritual more alluring than the physical.  The sacramental life is one in which more and more we “consecrate” things around us to God’s service and receive all things, as small and common and ubiquitous as leaves, as blessings from God and more and more things around us become visible signs of invisible realities.

When we become able to see God’s messages of love in something as simple as the sacrament of a falling leaf, we become rich indeed!


“Soundings” posts are aimed at considering together topics that are important for our society, for the Church, and for our own spiritual journeys. To ‘take a sounding’ is a nautical term about using depth to determine where you are and where you’re going.  These writings are designed to do just that. Follow along when we post on Fridays by subscribing here and selecting “Soundings” posts to receive information about, please forward to a friend, or share using the buttons below.