Wednesday, October 04, 2006

St. Francis and Creation

One of the things I love about St. Francis of Assisi is his love for nature. The whole of creation spoke to Francis about God. There was nothing, however small, that didn’t remind him of God. It was not surprising, then, that Creation responded to him.

There was one occasion when Francis visited a town called Gubbio. He learned that the people were being terrorised by a fierce wolf. In typical Francis fashion, he went out of the town to find the wolf and to have a meeting with it. Now normally people don’t have meetings with wolves, but then most of us are not like Francis.

The result of the meeting was that the wolf agreed not to frighten the people of Gubbio if, in exchange, they would give it food. The townsfolk agreed. In fact the wolf and the people kept their bargain so well that when the wolf died, it was given a solemn burial.

But Francis was not only interested in wolves. He also earned himself a reputation for speaking to birds. On one occasion he sent out a large flock of birds with instructions to spread God’s word. The birds flew into the air in the form of a large Cross and then travelled north, south, east and west to obey the instructions of the Little Poor Man of Assisi.

On another occasion, when Francis was preaching, the birds were singing so loudly that he was distracted. He was worried that his listeners would not be able to pay attention to his words. He turned to the birds and told them to be quiet and pay attention. Immediately the birds fell silent until he had finished speaking.

Francis also had a special love for flowers. In fact flowers have often been described as ‘the Franciscan luxury’. When Francis died, his friends and early companions remembered that he had told his brother gardener not to plant vegetables everywhere, but to leave a part of the garden for hardy plants that in time would produce our sisters, the flowers.

How often do we take for granted the animals, birds, insects and plants that are around us? Do we follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi such that the sun and moon are truly our Brother Sun and Sister Moon? If we were to see Creation as our brother, sister and mother, we would treat them with respect. We would be able to look at them and see God. We wouldn’t waste our Sister Water, who is so precious and pure, humble and useful.

Francis praised God for Brother Fire. We use fire every day. It is part of our lives. We are the only part of creation that has learned to use fire as a tool. Do we ever think of thanking God, not only for its usefulness, but also for the beauty of the dancing flames?

Lord, today I thank you for my Brother Sun and Sister Moon, for brother Fire and Sister Water. I thank you for all your beautiful Creation, which tells me of your greater loveliness. I thank you for every creature you have placed on this earth, because you have made everything out of love. Lord, Francis called Sister Earth also our Mother because she gives birth to all living things. I too am part of your Creation, Lord, and this tiny part of all that you have created itself desires to praise you.

God bless,

Sr. Janet