The changing of the seasons ― the seasons of nature and the seasons of life ― such is the subject of two thoughtful Emmanuel articles by Peter Schineller, SJ. The first article appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Emmanuel and it explored the spirituality, or rather, various “spiritualities” of winter and spring. In this issue of Emmanuel, Father Schineller continues his commentary on the seasons, exploring the many meanings that can be found in summer and fall. It’s lovely how throughout his reflections on the seasons he draws from the work of numerous poets, musicians, and theologians who all found in the seasons a deep source of nourishment and inspiration. I can’t ponder a “spirituality of the seasons” without thinking of Brother Gary LaVerdiere, SSS.
Readers of Emmanuel through the years are quite familiar with Gary’s vibrant photographs of the seasons that so often graced the covers of the magazine. As the art director of Emmanuel for more than 30 years, Gary taught with his images so much of what Peter Schineller expounds with his words.
And not only did he convey this deep spirituality in his photography, but he lived it and continues to live it in his everyday life. There’s not a spring day that passes where he doesn’t tend to the wide variety of flowers sprouting in the garden. There’s not a summer day that passes without him mowing the lawn and watering the plants. Fall finds him gathering all of the falling leaves and putting the garden to rest. While in winter he delights in the accumulation of snow and marvels the neighborhood with his wonderful and luminous Christmas display. Nature, faith and the rhythm of the seasons all blend into a spirituality that truly nourishes him.
Beauty is often the “fruit” of all his labor. As Father Schineller intimates of the spirituality of summer and fall, they are times to bear fruit. And so often the fruit Brother Gary has born has not only been his radiant garden or well-tailored lawn, but the meticulously attentive eye that nurtures both the growth of plants and trees and then shares their beauty through sumptuous photographs.
All of the photographs on the front cover, back cover, and inside back cover of this issue come from Brother Gary’s lens and spirituality. And with his photographs, he reminds all of us who can easily be so distracted by the hustle and bustle of daily living, that nature and the changing of the seasons have something important to teach.
Father John Christman, SSS