Channel For Peace
I just saved a Bull Frog in the cistern we are restoring in our 100 year old barn. She is a beautiful creature and has lived there for for perhaps more than a year. But since we are about to do some heavy duty construction on the barn's foundation, I needed to go down through a very narrow hole to retrieve her.
I grabbed her with two hands and looked into her eyes before placing her in a plastic jar to hand to Tom, my husband, who had created a large pool for her in the basement.
A Saint Francis moment, indeed.
Saint Francis moments abound here on Blue Heron Farm, which we call this beautiful place.
We live on the meandering Conestoga River, bringing geese, heron, ducks and bird life to us in abundance. And Frogs, of course.
We have deer friends who are secure here after our eighteen years of residency.
One friend in particular is a deep brown color and we plant a tomato garden for her and her family every year.
She stands and looks at us in the early spring each year as if to say: Hey! Don't forget to plant my garden!!
Humans are not the most trustworthy species as far as deer are concerned.
The fifth aphorism of Pananjali states: "When a person is steadfast in his abstention from harming others, then all living creatures will cease to feel enmity in his presence."
The deer, racoons, geese, frogs and heron all use our property as a refuge.
They know they are safe and we marvel in their company.
Hanging out with these creatures of God-ess reminds me of Saint Francis and what I call the Saint Francis effect.
My dogs are the recipient of great love in what they teach us in this life time: unconditional love, forgiveness, and great patience in the face of human foible.
The greatest book ever written about Saint Francis is called: "God's Pauper: St. Francis of Assisi" by Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek.
The book was out of print for many years but then was re-published in paperback in 1999. I got a copy as soon as I heard about it, circa 2002.
Reading the book transports consciousness to a mystical perspective.
The prologue of the book serves as an example:
"If I have omitted many of Francis's sayings and deeds and if I have altered others, and added still others which did not take place but which might have taken place, I have done so not out of ignorance or impudence or irreverence, but from a need to match the Saint's life with his myth, bringing that life as fully into accord with its essence as possible.
"Art has its right, and not only the right but the duty to subject everything else to its essence. It feeds upon the story, then assimilates it slowly, cunningly, and turns it into legend.
"While writing this legend which is truer than truth itself, I was overwhelmed by love, reverence and admiration for Francis, the hero and great martyr. Often large tears smudged the manuscript; often a hand hovered before me in the air, a hand with an eternally-renewed wound: someone seemed to have driven a nail through it, seemed to be driving a nail through it for all eternity.
"Everywhere about me, as I write, I sensed the Saint's invisible presence; because for me, Saint Francis is the model of the dutiful man, the man who by means of ceaseless, supremely cruel struggle, succeeds in fulfilling our highest obligation, something higher even than morality or truth or beauty: the obligation to transubstantiate the matter which God entrusted to us and turn it into spirit." Nikos Kazantzakis
Do we all have this same obligation? to transubstantiate the matter which God entrusts to us and turn it into spirit?
Only Nikos Kazantzakis could or would ask that question and have us wonder if we, too, can rise to this test of human potential?
Communing with the animals of Mother Nature these last eighteen years continues to be a spiritual practice: of being riveted in present moment reality, of experiencing compassion and love for all creatures great and small, and in these spaces of infinite awareness, we perceive the fragile preciousness of this world and beyond.
The Saint Francis statue which beautifies the flower garden is also a reminder of this fragile balance.
The Bullfrog in her new home typifies many more hours of grace as we care for her. The dogs know she is here to stay, probably knew this long before I did.
The Saint Francis effect is now clear. All of these years of animal communication and sharing the land and our home, and reading Nikos Kazantzakis's words today, has simplified this.
As we look to the Saints and in this case, Saint Francis for guidance, we are automatically transforming matter into spirit.
God-ess has entrusted this beautiful planet to us, our families, homes, our very lives; may we care and love and transform all of it and ask the infinite realms, which surround us at all times, to help us remember their guiding presence and to learn to access it the moment we ask.
May we know that these wishes are granted ceaselessly.