Maybe it’s the connection of the rhythm of the seasons to the embedded metaphors of Robert Frost. Maybe it is weaved into my training as an academic and a catechist. Whatever the context, I know that it is the beauty of late fall that draws my heart to themes of redemptive suffering and the ebb and flow of dying and rising. As I walk along the dirt road near my house or through the woods adjacent to the road, I am celebrating and remembering all holy men and women and the lives and souls of the just. These special days of remembrance, All Saints and All Souls and the entire month of November, are an invitation from the Church’s liturgical calendar to enter into that spirit.
In my role as instructor of Theology at Saint Joseph’s I am frequently honored and humbled by the personal sharing of my students. So many of them have suffered almost unbearable wounds. Some carry lingering questions about the purpose and meaning of their suffering. While meditating on the Crucifixion or the entire Stations of the Cross, one can be touched by the ineffable truth and value of suffering. God’s good grace with our tenacious will can wrestle meaning and purpose from anything. I’ve recommended Victor Frankel’s “Man Search For Meaning” and Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” I have often sought comfort in a prayerful, meditative reading of the Twenty Third Psalm.
Susan O’Hara teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online.