by Rev. Beverly Fest
I recently took a course on the Franciscan Way, looking at the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. Most people know St. Francis as a statue or birdbath for their garden. The guy who loved all the animals and birds. In fact he did! However, he also chose a lifestyle which followed the teachings of Jesus found in the beatitudes:
“Blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart” are some of those beatitudes.
St. Francis is also remembered for his words, “Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words.” In other words, we are called to live our faith, to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We are called to live in right relationship with one another and with all creation.
And St. Francis looked to nature for guidance on how we are to model our relationships with God, one another, and with the natural world. Humans and the earth and its creatures are called to support and complete one another. Not compete and destroy.
Pope Francis, who chose St. Francis as his namesake, teaches that faith requires that we hear “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Now in this time of autumn we can learn from the falling leaves. No matter how often I sweep my deck, they continue to fill it again. They are different colors, different shapes, different sizes. And they let go completely, surrendering without thought. And so we each surrender our heart, our souls to do the work we are called to do, trusting that we can make a difference—-a difference we may not see, but our children and grandchildren may see.