Saint Francis – Waaay Back Then
Canticle of Brother Sun
Saint Francis of Assisi
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.
Even a non-theist like me can appreciate the essential insight and thanks in this poem from the thirteenth century by the one whom I consider to be the first environmentalist – and a fellow Camino Santiago pilgrim! I left the stanza on Bodily Death in (save for one line) because, religious or not, we should all care about how we live while we are sharing this place and prepare for a departure eased – made joyful, even – by the sense that we have cared about our “Brothers” and “Sisters” on whom we depend and who, in turn, depend on our faithfulness to all life.
I found it (while looking for something else for a future blog) in my well-thumbed, autographed, copy of David Suzuki’s great 1997 book written with Amanda McConnell, The Sacred Balance.
Happy Feasting, Everyone!
Morning through bedroom window
Tree and sun say, “Come.
Be present in reflection.”
I enjoy my back yard often looking at the migrating birds, but only occasionally do I go out and be present to it. Mowing the lawn or pulling weeds out from between patio stones represent the lion’s share of my back yard activity. I promised myself to get out there and enjoy.
The above sugar maple tree is now the best tree in the yard. It seems to be recovering nicely from the ice storm damage and happy to be out from under the ash.
After an early treadmill and tai chi session I made coffee and a usual light breakfast. I forgot about the back yard, but the autumn-coloured maple and spectacular sky stubbornly appeared again reflected in our glass-topped breakfast nook table as I sat reading and sipping. I couldn’t resist this second beckoning.
Barefoot, I went down the deck stairs and set out a very old redwood chair on the cool, dewy lawn. We slowly lost a 40 foot white ash tree to the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Sadly, we had the ash removed last fall. I sat on the space where the ash once stood, enjoying the lovely, eclectic gardens that Anita has created and nurtured since we moved here in 1985.
I finished Helen Oyeyemi’s wonderful book, The Opposite House, in that chair. This book has contributed much to my sense of interconnectedness. Having appreciated interconnectedness for a long time, this morning I felt it with profound emotion. I could even smell the remains of the tree beneath me – or at least the fungus that was gently consuming its roots. It said “I am not all gone, just changed, and you are not alone.”
A bee checked out my coffee mug on the arm of the chair. I relaxed, grateful, in its company. I swatted no mosquitoes and, surprisingly, they did not take advantage.
“Disorder” might save us all
Jumble our jungle…
Open Our Hearts – A Song
Open Our Hearts is a religious song I wrote years ago for our church’s Lenten liturgy. I’ve added photos from our recent Camino Santiago in April and May, 2013. There are more songs (not all religious) to come; I add them when the spirit moves… You will find the ones I’ve “You-Tubed” on the My Songs page. You-Tubing my music files is “hard work,” which is why they aren’t all up yet…
I liked this photo right away and, after thinking about why, a few reasons come to mind. The way the shapes work, for one: the mountainside divides the image into two almost equal triangles, which simplifies things so that one’s eye is drawn to the end of the road that continues on to the left. The fog creates a feeling of mystery and uncertainty of what the figure in red will encounter along the way. (As it turned out – more fog.) The small, red figure stands out almost like an apparition against the green and grey.
Size is important symbolically here: I can’t help feeling a humility when I compare the size of the human form with the vastness of the Pyrenees. We felt isolated walking here, though the faint sound of an invisible cow-bell hinted that this lonely place was occupied by other humans who were making a simple living by farming nearby. I was moved by the evidence that humans here were living in a great deal more harmony with the land than humans like us who live on what was once prime Ontario farms and now is mostly asphalt, brick and concrete.
The cow-bell, it turned out, was a horse-bell. Three horses eventually appeared around the bend, almost invisible to the right of our path in the mist. The photo works better when I show only two.
The crossing from France into Spain occurred simply without kiosks, toll-booths and guards. It was marked by a sign that said Navarre.
Bob Marley and Oneness
I have a few of Bob Marley’s songs in my repertoire, but have been listening closely to his music lately for a number of good reasons. Here is something I’ve just realized that stopped me in my tracks:
Don’t Worry I just sang carelessly for a while, getting the words of the first two lines of the verse wrong. Now I realize that I missed a universe of meaning in those two, seemingly simple, lines:
Rise up this morning
Smile with the rising sun
I italicized above the words I was getting wrong. I would sing them:
Woke up this morning
Smile at the rising sun
But how much was missed by not listening carefully enough!
Rise: Bob rose up; he did not simply open his eyes passively and enjoy the sunlight. He stood up and saw his doorstep. He probably walked over to it. This song represents a conscious, deliberate act.
With: Bob smiled with the rising sun. Not an accidental choice of words here, I think. For Bob, the sun was smiling too. The human and the sphere that sustains him were smiling together. They were friendly. Bob didn’t put a distance between him and the sun; I can almost imagine the two of them standing and even taking a drink together. I don’t know what Bob drank, but to me they were sharing a close, almost chummy, moment.
The three little birds also were singing one song – a melody pure and true. They were singing with and for Bob and the Sun.
The message for me: if we realize how ephemeral, illusory and interconnected life is we will not worry, because every little thing gonna be alright.