In my last couple of blogs, I wrote about two common symbols we see at this time of year: sunflowers and apples. Following the lead of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who wrote about the Book of Nature, we find that just about everything God creates speaks to us, teaches us about God himself and our relationship to him.
To recap, sunflowers are symbols of obedience. But obedience doesn’t mean being voiceless, thoughtless or victimized. Biblical obedience, the kind that God desires, is about willingly submitting ourselves to his rule, to be guided by him in our thoughts and actions. Biblical obedience is an external display of an internal disposition, where we listen to God and decide to do as he prompts.
Apples are connected with learning. Since they are traditionally represented in art as original sin, as the fruit that Eve picked from the Tree of Knowledge, they are symbols of learning. But it is learning that is placed under the guidance of God, a type of learning that ushers in the Kingdom of God on three levels, individually within ourselves, on the communal level in the world, and on the cosmic level, in reflecting the truth of God. This knowledge doesn’t have to be explicitly about God, it can also be implicitly used to serve God through serving others. For example, the specialized knowledge that is required to repair downed electrical lines after a hurricane, or to aid injured people, or clear destroyed buildings using heavy machinery, are all examples of knowledge that serves the common good, while it serves others.
So, what happens if these two symbols are brought together? One might end up with something like the wreath above - a seasonal example of obedience (sunflowers) and learning (apples) working together to produce something new. I made this wreath a couple of years ago, and I hang it in our Family Prayer space when it’s Back to School time, as a subtle reminder of why and how we should study. This Fall, see if you can find these two symbols joined together somewhere, and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and growth in both obedience and knowledge.
*The instructions for making this wreath are on the Wreaths for Prayer Spaces page, if you want to give it a try!
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