Beloved Friends- Today, October 4th, is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit, and without a sense of self-importance. Born in the 12th cent. in Assisi, he is now the patron saint of Italy, animals, archaeologists, merchants, metal workers and the environment; a pretty impressive list to be sure!
St. Francis considered all of creation to be a reflection of the Divine. He called every living creature his “brothers” and “sisters,” and, in one story told about him, preached to the birds and persuaded a wolf to stop attacking the people of a certain town and their livestock if the townspeople agreed to feed the wolf. Above all, his deep sense of connectedness to and for all things serve as an iconic reminder that we are never alone and forget that connection at our own peril.
This Sunday afternoon at 3:00 I invite everyone to bring their beloved pets once again to Middlegrounds Metroparks to participate in our annual Blessing of the Animals. We have enjoyed this tradition over the past 2 years and I love what 2 and 4-leggeds have shown up for this fun (and blessedly short) service! We will once again read a contemporary version of the story of creation from Genesis and offer individual blessings for each of our beautiful pets.
I end today offering a prayer often attributed to St. Francis- and whether the veracity of authorship can be proven or not- it is indeed a prayer that calls out the best in each of us as we strive to stay connected to each other and all of creation.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is
despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
Come home this Sunday, where we will have a place at the Table of Love ready and waiting for you!
And may you never forget that you are loved.