My human owner has recently come back from a trip to the Isles of Scilly off south-west England. The islands are beautiful, and largely unspoilt. They are one of those rare places where nature and humans still co-exist in relative harmony. The resident birds are very much tamer than on the mainland, because people haven’t yet abused their trust. And it seems to me that’s how the world was always meant to be.
Many folk say that they feel closer to God when they immerse themselves in Nature. And perhaps none more so than St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. He built bonds of love with a great many creatures, which he viewed as an expression of God’s presence around him. And he had a particularly special relationship with the birds that often followed him, perching on his shoulders and arms as he prayed or walked around.
On one occasion, St. Francis was travelling through the Spoleto Valley in Italy when a large flock of different birds gathered around him in the trees, prompting him to give an impromptu sermon……
“My sweet little sisters, birds of the sky, you are bound to heaven, to God, Your Creator. In every beat of your wings and every note of your songs, praise him. He has given you the greatest of gifts, the freedom of the air. You neither sow nor reap, yet God provides for you the most delicious food; rivers and lakes to quench your thirst; mountains and valleys for your home; tall trees in which to build your nests; and the most beautiful clothing: a change of feathers every season……………Clearly our Creator loves you dearly………”
And in the Gospels, plain old Sparrows are used to show the extent to which God cares for us all:
“For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” (Matthew 10:29-31)
So God’s love and concern are there for us all. We all matter to Him. We are all a part of His wonderful creation. But we won’t truly know that unless we all learn to live in harmony with one another. And that’s my special prayer for today……