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Thursday, 20 October 2011 15:56

Lessons from nature

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Spring is such a beautiful time of the year, when nature seems to re-awaken: trees put out new shoots with blossoms, the garden is ready to receive the seedlings for fresh vegetables, the birds build their nests.
But it will take many weeks and months before we can harvest the fruits: nature is not in a hurry and does not take shortcuts. It requires constant care, pruning, weeding, watering; and the right conditions of soil and weather.

The study and observation of nature, and its processes of development, are very "educative" – they teach us many qualities and values, such as patience and tolerance, taking time and allowing growth to take its natural course, providing the right conditions, making a constant and determined effort to develop, having to contend with failure and loss beyond our control, and not to be discouraged when things do not turn out according to our expectations.

Education is a slow and gradual process – it must take its course, just like nature. It also requires constant effort, and the provision of the right conditions, at home and at school. The end product, that is a mature person who can make moral choices for good and live according to the values of the gospel, will take time.

The paradox is that we live in a society and at a time when everything is changing very rapidly, when we throw away things after we have used them once or twice, when we are bombarded by messages of immediate satisfaction and when everything is dominated by money and spending – quickly; and when individualism takes right of way over the common good of a group.

If we allowed ourselves to be guided by the above attitude, the first casualty is the best interests of the child, who is caught between the slow processes of natural development, and the "fast food" mentality of the society where one has to grow. The next casualty is a religious view of life and of the world, where the constantly changing nature of "gadgets" and the search for an escape every weekend, excludes the need for God, for religious practices, for spirituality and any consideration of the supernatural.

My challenge and my appeal is for all of us to learn from the lessons of nature around us in this spring season, to allow the beauty and goodness of nature to reveal the presence of God, to create our own spiritual environment, to make time and space for the community.

With every blessing,
Father Frank Bertagnolli SDB (Salesians of Don Bosco Australia-Pacific)