At my house, we’re an ecumenical bunch. My oldest was dedicated in a Baptist church, baptized in a Presbyterian church, and confirmed in a Methodist church. My husband got a degree from a Baptist seminary before going to med school, and his brother recently became an Episcopal priest. One brother-in-law is a Baptist youth minister. Our in-laws started their own now non-denominational church, my folks are still Baptist, and we’re Methodist – at least in this decade. My son is even looking toward a future in ministry; we’ll see! (I’m getting to poetry, promise.)
As a kid, I was raised in the Baptist church but was always a bit of a closet Catholic. I knew nothing of theological differences; the art and even the ritual called to me. The closest I usually came was an occasional peek into the Episcopal church nearby – dark carved wood and glorious stained glass windows. That’s what I think I remember, anyway. And one of my prized possessions, you can see I still have it, drawn out of an old wooden box for this photo – is this little plastic framed picture, with its oval portraits of Jesus and Mary. (Familiar Anglo-Saxon versions, so perhaps not accurate if indeed still lovely.) I think it might have come from my Arkansas grandmother's treasures bought and sold at local sales. (Oh yeah, she was Church of Christ.) Of course, I also ran wild in the woods communing with God and every creature which crossed my path, with no need of an intercessor, so I was pretty inclusive even back then.
A year or so ago I picked up this lovely chunky little tome at a used bookstore: Saints – A Year in Faith and Art (Rosa Giorgi, Abrams, 2006). I’ve come across all kinds of folks and stories I’d never heard of before. And lots of liturgical art across the centuries. Well, yesterday's honored saint was the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226. Tell me, after all these centuries, isn’t his Canticle of the Sun still moving and beautiful?
The Canticle of Brother Sun
By St. Francis
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.
Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Visit this website of The friars of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis for the rest of this translation.
If you’re in the mood for haiku, yesterday I began a monthly poetry column on my friend and YA author Janice Hardy’s terrific blog for writers, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Actually, the post is about submissing haiku, rejection, and keepting track of it all. Here’s the link. I’ll be over there the first Thursday of each month exploring some aspect of poetry and writing. (Thanks, Janice!)
For more great poetry today, go see what the talented and ever generous Laura has rounded up at Writing the World for Kids.