Earlier today, I was out in our sun porch doing some gentle yoga in hopes of loosening up a nagging back muscle problem. As I stretched upward to begin a basic sun salutation, I realized I was looking up at my beautiful clay crescent moon, given to me by a good friend many years ago. Then later, as I turned to do a warrior pose, I noticed the clay sun hanging directly opposite. Suddenly all felt right with the world on this Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
I haven’t taken time for homegrown yoga or silent prayer lately — for too many reasons to list, none of them good enough — so it seemed especially coincidental that I was raising my arms in praise of God’s creation under the watchful eyes of Brother Sun and Sister Moon on the feast of the saint who made them famous in poem and prayer.
Even my sun porch sacred space — a simple wooden tray with a battery-powered candle, incense burner, and a single holy image (rotating depending on my mood or the day) amid dried sunflowers, seeds, and pine cones — seemed in sync with the feast day. And as I sat down on my meditation cushion in silence, the rain tapping on the roof overhead provided the perfect soundtrack and the towering oaks and pines outside a glorious backdrop.
I found myself smiling, aware that my decision to put aside piles of work for a rare session of yoga and meditation when I really didn’t have a minute to spare, must have been a little nudge from the Spirit. Everything in me had been fighting against this yoga prayer practice today, and yet I threw down my mat, lit my incense, shrugged off my back pain, and entered into that beautiful silent space that occurs when mindful physical motion gives way to the stillness of spiritual contemplation.
On top of that, my back is feeling much better, so it was a win-win.
Here’s St. Francis’ Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon for a little inspiration on this fall night. Why not read it outside under the stars, or clouds?
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they whom death will find doing Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.
— St. Francis of Assisi