Today marks the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. The feast commemorates the life of St. Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.
Many congregations in our region and around the world celebrate this day through blessings of animals and other environmentally themed worship services. To help you share in this day and the knowledge of one of our faith traditions most dedicated ecological leaders, we are highlighting an incredible children’s book, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, by Katherine Patterson.
This beautiful book is a re-imagining of St. Francis’ famous Canticle of the Creation. The pictures and words serve to inspire the young, and young at heart, in loving the world fully and in coming to know the Earth as our relative. We hope this can be a cherished addition to your congregational (or home) library. The Canticle of Creation is pasted below:
O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory,
honor and all blessing.
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation
and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light;
he is strong and shines magnificently.
O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon,
and for the stars
which you have set shining and lovely
in the heavens.
Be praised, my Lord,
for our Brothers Wind and Air
and every kind of weather
by which you, Lord,
uphold life in all your creatures.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water,
who is very useful to us,
and humble and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom you give us light in the darkness:
he is bright and lively and strong.
Be praised, my Lord,
for Sister Earth, our Mother,
who nourishes us and sustains us,
fruits and vegetables of many kinds
and flowers of many colours.
Be praised, my Lord,
for those who forgive for love of you;
and for those
who bear sickness and weakness
in peace and patience
– you will grant them a crown.
Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death,
whom we must all face.
I praise and bless you, Lord,
and I give thanks to you,
and I will serve you in all humility.
— St. Francis of Assisi
Our congregational children’s ministries are great places to sow seeds of creation care, and there are many books we can utilize to help us instill these values. Two such resources deal with composting: an incredible way to reduce food waste, increase soil health, and address climate change by returning carbon to the soil.
Compost: A Family Guide to Making Soil from Scraps by Ben Raskin and Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary Makenna Siddals are both great resources for helping kids understand that caring for the earth is 1) an act of love for all of God’s creatures (themselves included) and 2) full of fun and wonder.
Composting is something congregations can take on as a facility as well as an activity that can happen at home. That said, teaching your young ones about composting is a wonderful, tangible way to plant seeds for creation care within your community. To learn more about composting as a congregation or at home, check out these resources in our CCA Guide to Creation Care: https://creationcarealliance.org/waste-reduction/?emci=124d7903-c2f6-eb11-b563-501ac57b8fa7&emdi=a047635b-14f9-eb11-b563-501ac57b8fa7&ceid=570480&fbclid=IwAR2C95ZZmarTKNBj98zqmf953HEaPHXkiZui5cg6gJUJ2l2hTn7HgIKr0_g#waste2
The next Creation Care Alliance (CCA) regional gathering is August 19th from 6-7pm. We will meet over Zoom for fellowship, learning, and to meet our new director, Sarah Ogletree. Sarah will share her story in the work of creation care, consider what Pope Francis has termed “ecological conversion,” and invite meeting attendees to think about their own environmental stories and motivation.
Statistics alone are rarely the reason we change our mind or become motivated to take action. Instead, most often, it is story that wakes us up and gives us the courage to do what is right. Stories matter. They connect us. They bring facts to life. It will be a joy to listen and share our stories with one another–to think about who we are, why we’re here, and what we’re called to.
To attend, please register: https://creationcarealliance.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? Perhaps you have walked many. Regardless, you’re invited to join in this meditative practice with CCA’s intern, Aundreya. Each labyrinth walk is unique in its own way. This walk will focus on Creation work and what that means to each individual. It can be a meditation on all that is taken from Mother Earth that evolves into thinking of ways to give back to Earth. Creation Care is heavy work, laced with grief. It is also sacred work with so much hope. Perhaps this labyrinth walk would present the potential to lay down grief and burdens, and walk away with more hope. Labyrinth owner, Johanna, believes that within each walk, “… whatever is occurring is divinely inspired or cosmically led, for the person experiencing it for the moment they are in.” This walk offers the potential to motivate and refresh us in our creation care work in a myriad of ways!
If you would like to join on Thursday, July 29 at 6 PM, please register here.
In our discussion of Part 3 in Braiding Sweetgrass last week, we addressed the idea of extending human rights to nature. In this section of the text, Robin Wall Kimmerer underscores the benefit of interacting with nature in a relational way—asking permission to make use of resources, thanking the world for its many offerings that benefit us, regifting the earth with the nourishment the air, water, and soil need replenishment. Kimmerer addresses this idea of nature having agency, and therefore, rights that we usually reserve for humans. This is ultimately referred to as environmental personhood. The concept of environmental personhood is understood in many indigenous cultures, and has been employed as a legal tactic to protect sacred rivers and land masses. The acknowledgment is that these spaces are inherently valuable—that they have rights in and of themselves.
CCA intern, Aundreya Shepherd, noted that this was intriguing to her—particularly as a conversation around consent and striving to exist in a respectful relationship with nature. She reflected saying,
The idea of listening and being attuned to what a plant is communicating as a way of relating to that being in a way that is mutually beneficial, respectful, and consensual was wholly novel and intriguing to me. I love the idea of humans being so attuned to the greater Spirit of Creation, that we can be given and refused permission. I was also excited to learn that Kimmerer is not alone in her emphasis of the need to ask permission of the earth.
These are the kinds of conversations and quandaries that Braiding Sweetgrass is leading us to. What a gift to think more deeply about our relationship with the world and how we interact with the fullness of Creation. If you’re interested in joining the next discussion of the book, email Aundreya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmount Assembly in Black Mountain, NC has been integrating educational murals onto the bathhouse at the camp in preparation for their Fern Way Farm Camp summer programs! Different sides feature local flora and fauna for campers to learn about as a way to connect to their own places and ecosystems. The artists are Ohio-based Laura McNeel and Elizabeth Hatchett (her work can be found at Betty Hatchett Designs). It was completed with volunteers’ help from both the Christmount neighborhood and the surrounding WNC area!
Today’s mural depicts the magnificent Red-Tailed Hawk, otherwise nicknamed as “chickenhawk” in WNC because of their carnivorous diet, although they mostly eat rodents. Red-Tailed Hawks are a great example of resilience as they are able to make their homes in many different biomes. They thrive in habitats from the Arctic to Mexico and their diverse diet reflects the variety within their habitats. Their ability to adjust and hunt in new ways only proves their unique adaptability. The Red-Tailed Hawk is protected by the United States’ Migratory Bird Treaty Act because its migration spans continents.
When the snow begins to come, the Red-tailed Hawks leave their breeding grounds for warmer climates. For nesting, they tend to search for tall trees to create their cliff nests with a “bird’s eye view” of the surrounding area. When areas use selective-cutting or high-grading, it limits the trees available for the hawk’s nesting to smaller trees where Hawks are more vulnerable to attacks because of their lack of a safe perch. Red-Tailed Hawks are also one of the most popular birds for falconry in the US because of their intelligence and ability to be trained. Though falconry can lower the number of hawks, it is tightly controlled, and thankfully, hawk populations haven’t suffered significant losses in numbers.
Fun Fact: The infamous Bald Eagle cry in movies, is actually the cry from the Red-Tailed Hawk!