Alec in Wonderland

by Alec Bonacci

The forest can be an enchanted place—a kind of wonderland. For instance, in early spring at the fish pond on Carmel Hill, Darrin Prowse pointed out to me ice formations that looked like angel wings. And in winter, Fr. Louis Labrecque and I came across a small snow-covered sapling in the shape of a cross. He blessed it.

Beauty is all around us and it’s more noticeable in springtime. Even a groundhog sunbathing on a rock has a certain joyfulness about it. Even one tiny bud of a maple tree reveals an explosion of life.

All this reminds me of a part of the Byzantine Liturgy where we sing: “Life-creating, life-creating, life-creating mystery.”

With death on our minds or even all around us due to the coronavirus, it’s good to keep our hearts and minds on the risen Christ.

During Mass, the faithful join the angels and saints praising God, proclaiming that “heaven and earth are full of Your glory.”

This speaks of how there is more to the earth than what meets the eye. The earth is more than just the sum of its observable parts.

I am not really sure what the glory of God is, but to quote Doug Guss, a member of Madonna House for more than sixty years, “What’s really real is the spiritual.”

He doesn’t mean that nature is not real but that we need to think beyond the modern worldview and, like St Francis, see everything with the eyes of faith.

G. K. Chesterton saw that way, too, and like St. Francis, he saw things playfully. In his book, Orthodoxy, for example, he muses on the daily rotation of the earth. He doesn’t see the earth as only following a strict timetable. He sees it also as God every morning playfully asking the rising sun to “do it again”—just as a child asks a parent to do a fun thing over and over again, never getting tired of it.

Nature is always pointing to something higher, and what it points to is God himself. So it can easily lift our hearts and minds to him in joyful prayer.