Quote of the Day: Jack Wintz of the Order of Friars Minor insightfully tells us that “in reading Saint Bonaventure’s Life of St. Francis recently, I was surprised by where Bonaventure positioned what was Francis’ most famous story of preaching to birds. He has the story occurring right at the point in Francis’ life where Francis is struggling with a deep personal dilemma: Should he retire from the world and devote himself entirely to prayer or should he continue traveling about as a preacher of the gospel?”
To get an answer St. Francis seek the advice: Brother Sylvester and Sister (Saint) Clare. The word comes back very quickly from both of them that God wants Francis to keep proclaiming the good news [even if it is for the birds.] As St. Bonaventure ends his version, no sooner does Francis hear their response than he stands up, and “without the slightest delay he takes to the roads, to carry out the divine command with great fervor.”
Commentary: Some skeptics claim that is frivolous folklore that St. Francis prayed to birds, worms, fish, reptiles, wolves and other creatures. And yet, if we do not raise of voice in delight of creation, for the care of creation, who are we? Strait-laced, unswerving logic-positivist rationalists that have dismissed that our interaction with other creatures, cultures, genders and faiths is just one more way to embrace Creation and the Creative Spirit? Rather than dismissing this story as one more quaint, cute story about the Patron Saint of all Creatures, why not recognize and celebrate the wondrous capacity that Francis had to see the Spirit in the interactions among all of us, rather than being focused of material thing-ness.
Suggested Action #32: As you walk your contemplative path today, look in the interstices, the open spaces, the interactions and the ecotones for God, Yahweh, Allah, Nassau, the Tao, Jewed Makai and any other names you wish to use celebrate our Common Creator/Creation. It may be that the in-between-ness is where the sacred shines through the most. Go out and preach that good news to all other creatures, and only when necessary use human words.
Gary Paul Nabhan aka Brother Coyote is a professed member of the Ecumenical Order of Franciscans, a graduate of the Living School, a conservation biologist, orchard-keeper and story-teller.