Sunday was the Feast of St. Francis, and this was the first year in many, many years that I was not able to do a Blessing of the Animals service. That has always been one of my favorite services, and for these last 15 years, I always led them with little Henry. This is also the first Feast of St. Francis that we have celebrated without him, and so, I have been thinking of him even more than usual this past week.
But, because he was such a very good boy, now I think about him with such happiness, and deep gratitude that we were able to have him with us for so long. Like all animals, Henry helped us experience the world in new ways, showed us new pleasures and new aspects of creation to delight in, and gave us even more reason to give thanks for the blessings of creation. St. Francis knew all that, of course; with his eye of faith he saw God everywhere, deeply embedded in creation, and shining out at us through the eyes of birds, snakes, cats and squirrels. Even today, St. Francis helps us discover God in new and wondrous places.
Back to Henry; I have many, many pictures of him, as you can imagine, but the one above is one of my favorites. It was taken in Colorado, at the house where I grew up, one year at Christmas when we were there visiting my mom. As you can see, Henry is taking full delight in the fluffy Colorado snow, chasing his frisbee with abandon. It reminded me of this poem from Mary Oliver, which I wanted to share with you. She helps us discover God in new and wondrous places, too. For you who love dogs, who love animals, who love the pleasures of the body in this world, this poem is for you.
The Storm (Bear)
“Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.
Oh, I could not have said it better myself.”