Preaching to the Birds

On Fridays we have a school Mass, and I usually preach without notes. The ideas are in my head, and I take a ‘prayer walk’ around the school campus and practice the homily out loud. There’s a flock of canadian geese in residence at the moment and the other day they started to follow me around. I don’t know if they were listening to the sermon or not, but they certainly left plenty of ‘offerings’ in their wake.

St Francis preaching to the birds is the sort of charming, foolish and prophetic thing he was best at. In preaching to the birds perhaps he was making the point that the birds were the only ones who were willing to listen. After all, God is interested in the birds too, otherwise he wouldn’t know when a sparrow falls, and didn’t Jesus point to the birds as an example of how we should live the life of faith? “Look to the birds of the air. They do not toil or spin, yet the heavenly Father looks after them.”

Here’s a poem about the birds by e.e.cummings

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

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