Every time I see Niagara Falls I am amazed. Thankfully I cannot get a "ho-hum" attitude toward this wonder of the world. This past Tuesday four of us Sisters went to see the Falls. One of us four had never seen the Falls. She had passed by on her way to places like Cleveland and Buffalo, but had never been able to get off the Interstate and enjoy the sights. She was duly impressed. I was able to take a few nice pictures for Sister and even a few seconds' worth of the cascade as the water plunges over the falls. Sister Irene and I went down under the Falls. I was impressed once again at the 34 million gallons of water rushing by us each minute as we stood at a portico beneath the Falls. My first assignment after I left our mother house was in Buffalo. The historical lore tells us that Father Hennipin, the Franciscan who accompanied the French explorers in the Niagara region, exclaimed "What a beautiful river!" or "Que beau fleuve!" (My French is probably all wrong here). To those around him it sounded like "buffalo"--the bison--so that is the word that stuck and became the name of the city which sprung up along the shores of Lake Erie and the Niagara River.
The Falls are truly awesome. In late April as I flew back to Toronto from a week in Boston, the pilot tilted our plane so we on my side enjoyed a gorgeous aerial view of the water. The immensity of the Falls reminds me of the song "Our God is an Awesome God." It's good to praise God and thank him too for the gift we have in the nature around us. I have a friend in Maine who lives near the ocean. In fact there are parts of her house that allow her a fantastic view of the Atlantic. At times I feel, "I'd love to live there where Ginny is, so I can see the ocean all the time." Yet I know that this is impossible for me. However, the beauty of having seen the water cascading over the Falls, churning and misting minute after minute, reminded me of the immensity of God's graces that he showers on each of us. So I am compensated for not living in Maine!
We as Church are in the midst of, or preparing to pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised "I will send you Another...an Advocate." The powers of nature remind me of the story of the First Pentecost when the Advocate, the Holy Spirit did come. The Acts of the Apostles tell us this: "Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer. And, Mary the Mother of Jesus was there." (Acts of the Apostles) The power of the Spirit on Pentecost was awesome. His power can be just as awesome today, not only in the pounding force of the Niagara River's cascades, but most of all in the grace He gives us to be open to God's presence and to the needs of those around us.