My husband called me St. Francis this week when I tried to rescue a baby bird that fell out of its nest. It had landed right on the sidewalk where we walk every morning. Thinking the mother might be around to nurture her baby, I put the fledgling under the tree. Wrong move! Later on I came back to check on her, and the ants were starting to swarm the poor thing. Of course, I freaked out and got rid of the ants and tried to revive her. Then I did the most heroic thing…I googled “baby bird fell out of nest” and found plenty of good advice on what not to do, some of which I had already done. After trying some of the right things, in the end, poor baby bird did die, but wrapped in warmth and care.
After hearing this story, my brother-in-law sent me an awesome video of a man rescuing a baby magpie that became a loving pet and even companion to his cat. My story wasn’t magical at all! Yet I do find joy in feeding my backyard squirrels and birds. We have this awesome St. Francis bird bath holding a basket pictured above. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and is ready to offer them protection and a drink of water. In our yard, his basket is a popular place to take a splash bath.
Now this is all sounding cheesy…but on many morning prayer times, I have looked at St. Francis holding out his basket, and thought of it as a reminder to offer myself and what I have to God. However, this idea has reversed as I watched a beautiful cardinal jump in for a refreshing splash. I realized that when I hold out my small offering, God allows Beauty to jump in. Divine Love fills my basket of days as it says in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…my cup overflows.” It is the presence of God, “for you are with me,” by which fear is displaced with “goodness and mercy.“
St. Francis identified so closely with the poor that he gave up his wealth to become one of them. Even in this crisis, we are privileged with gifts of health, shelter, food and resources. There are many who are holding out empty baskets. So during the lockdown, I have been compelled by God’s Goodness to serve the hungry in my local community as well as offer relief to international friends in dire circumstances. My meager offerings aren’t frontline newsworthy, but when I pull my basket back I find Beauty, Peace, Joy, and Love.
PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS. As you pray, meditate on what you have in your basket to offer the poor and suffering, “for it is in giving that we receive.”
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life