Brother crow was strutting in the Sanctuary, while sister sparrow twittered from the lectern. Brother dog woofed sister cat out of her slumber. She scampered to the safety of the pews, her colouring a perfect camouflage against the trellised woodwork. (I am not being chauvinistic – the genders are accurately assigned. I know. I am on speaking terms with the local fauna*.) Today is the first of October and we shall soon celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi – the man who embraced all of creation in brotherhood (and sisterhood!). Perhaps it is fitting that our church was graced by the presence of his friends. Brother crow, for once, did not annoy by cawing his way through Mass. He must have realised that speech is golden only when it is timely and wise!
I love October for other reasons too. Though this is one of the hottest months in Mumbai, it still signals the countdown to the end of the year, winter and that most beloved occasion in the Christian calendar – Christmas. Christmas will be different this year because many of our own will not be there with us to share and celebrate, and yet there is a stirring in the heart, remembered joy, the anticipation of peace and healing, and the faith that it will happen.
I am reminded of a quote from my collection which goes something like this: ‘People say autumn is a sad season. I do not think so. Nature is not dying; she is merely sleeping and judging from her colours, her dreams are beautiful in anticipation of spring.’
Spring and life renewed. A life that we continue to live for those we love, because we love. Because, those we love are part of us and we are part of them. Because, through us their memory lives on.
And this brings me back to St. Francis. St. Francis lived the message of love – his heart was open to all things, all persons, all seasons, all situations. To read his life is to experience a tug of the heartstrings. And for those who walk with the animals and talk with the animals, this tug is very strong indeed!
(*I’ll let you into the secret: hubby taught me to distinguish between the birds – males are flashy and large, females are more sober and small; the cat has had more than one litter of kittens; the dog belongs to one of our priests and I’ll take his word for it that it’s a boy!)