Br. Jerome Schroeder, OFM Cap., has been here since Friday morning.  He came to present this weekend’s Franciscan Living Retreat titled The Spirituality of Beauty.  For those of you who do not know him, Br. Jerome is a poet.  I did not sit in on the retreat as I might have in years past, and I have the feeling I missed a good one.
I did participate in Sunday’s closing liturgy.  With both poetic brevity and Franciscan simplicity, Br. Jerome’s homily was the shortest and yet most profound I think I have ever heard.  Taking his reflection from the last line of today’s gospel (Mt. 21:28-32), he spoke slowly and deliberately, pausing after each statement:
Change your minds.
Isn’t that why we are here this weekend?
Change your minds.
When was the last time we changed our minds?
Change your minds.
Change your hearts.
Change your imagination.
What else do we need to change?
Br. Jerome then paused longer, just standing in silence.  Whether his intent was just to invite reflection or to create space for a verbal response, I do not know.  Someone in the community spoke, “Change our actions”.  After a minute or two more of silence, and without saying another word, he returned to the altar to continue Mass.
Wow!  That was it.  So much said, and so much to think about, in so few words.  Yet words we all need to hear and take to heart.  In this time of COVID, when we are all worn and weary of the changes and limitations in daily life.  In this time of heightened awareness of the long-standing systemic issues of discrimination and oppression in our society.  In this time of political rancor, anger and violence in our nation.  Change your mind.  Change your heart.  Change your imagination.
And that is by no means an exhaustive list.  As Br. Jerome said, we need to each ask ourselves, “What else do (I) need to change?”  My perceptions?  My attitude?  My openness to the suffering of others?  My willingness to listen, to learn?
In this season of autumn, nature all around us is changing.  When you seek the spirituality of beauty, when you marvel at the bright, bold fall colors, when you watch the leaves fall and the branches grow bare, when you see the critters scurrying around collecting the food they need for winter, perhaps Br. Jerome’s words will come to mind.  Perhaps you will take a moment or two in silence to reflect on his final question.  Perhaps, if you take another moment or two in silence, God will speak to you an answer.
For all the questions, and all the answers God provides in the silence, we say Deo Gratias!