{Day 2} The Friendly Beasts

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St Francis by John August Swanson

The Psalmist writes, “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You save people and animals alike, O LORD.” (Psalm 36:6)

Today is World Communion Sunday. This year, it is also St Francis Day, commonly observed in Episcopal churches with the blessing of the animals.  I like to think that the whole peaceable kingdom comes to worship, at least in spirit, and that a true world communion includes our furry and feathered companions on this earth.

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Nothing helps me pay attention to the present moment more than seeing little (or big) creatures at work and play. One wonderful day, I happened upon a fox cub, eager to pose and pounce for my camera while mom was off foraging.  Birds are always chirping on my balcony and even a squirrel finds her way up four storeys by scaling the wall.

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Recently I discovered Sufjan Stevens version of The Friendly Beasts, a Christmas song about the animals’ gifts to Jesus. I love to think that animals worship their Creator:

(Click pause on the Music for Dreaming in the right column if you’d like to listen.)

Jesus our brother kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable of wood
And the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus our brother kind and good

“I” said the donkey shaggy and brown
I carried his mother up hill and down
I carried him safely to Bethlehem town
“I” said the donkey shaggy and brown

And “I” said the cow all white and red
I gave him my manger for a bed
I gave him my hay for to pillow his head
“I” said the cow all white and red

“I” said the sheep with a curly horn
I have him my wool for his blanket warm
And he wore my coat on that Christmas morn
“I” said the sheep with a curly horn

“I” said the dove from the rafters high
Cooed him to sleep that he should not cry
We cooed him to sleep my love and I
“I” said the dove from the rafters high

And “I” said the camel all yellow and black
Over the desert upon my back
I brought him a gift in the wise men’s pack
“I” said the camel all yellow and black

Thus every beast remembering it well
In the stable dark was so proud to tell
Of the gifts that they gave Emmanuel
The gifts that they gave Emmanuel

Practice: As you go about your day, I invite you to pay attention to the animals that cross your path and simply watch them for a moment. How are they worshipping God? How might the Holy Spirit be speaking to you through them?

31 Days

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