It is said that Saint Francis would preach to the birds. He called these winged companions, his little sisters and as their elder, he would often speak passionately to them. During these discourses, the birds curiously did not fly away. They stayed close, as if immersed in his every word. They would only fly away after he had given them his blessing. A blessing that ignited song as they headed out in each direction. They like the humble friars, carried nothing with them except a sermon wrapped in the movements of song. For in the providence of God, they rested.
I wonder what Saint Francis taught the birds? For it seems that the birds have much more to teach me, than I to them. Which makes me wonder all the more what wisdom he might offer these humble sisters?
What wisdom would cause them to stay and listen, to ponder, and to wait? What wisdom would allow them to see a hunger (beyond the physical) being met in the presence of a humble Italian friar?
To Francis, everything was spiritual. He embraced the spirituality of all creation in a way that not many do today. “His love for the earth shaped his whole theology” (Cron 75)*. Each bird was a sister and each tree a brother, able to teach and uplift the other.
At this point, I do not have a message for the birds, instead I am content to learn from them, to be present with them, and to memorize the chorus’ they have composed. For they have an awful lot to teach it would seem.
What would you teach the birds? What have the birds taught you?
*quote from Chasing Francis by Ian Cron