Do you like word association games? If you say "critters" to Georgia Episcopalians, chances are they will say "Honey Creek Camp and Conference Center." That is where many of us go to spend time with God, and as a bonus we might spot a family of raccoons, or four baby armadillos, or a painted bunting. We love regrouping and telling what we saw. Once on a bicycle ride at about dusk I saw a small fawn, which at first I took to be a large dog.
If you say "critters" or "animals" to any other Christians, you might hear "St. Francis of Assisi." That is because artistic portrayals of Francis show him with a bird on his shoulder and a large wolf at his side. By the way, that wolf is "Gubio." I'll save his story for another time.
Regarding critters, Francis is known for this verse:
"All creatures of our God and King
lift up your voices, let us sing: Alleluia, alleluia!"
For all you purists who wonder why I would mention St. Francis on a day other than October 4, here is what triggered my word association: St. Francis was also known for his attempts to make peace in a war-torn world. We live in a war-torn world. Our national and religious leaders are doing a lot of continent-hopping in hopes of making peace. I remind us of this familiar prayer attributed to St. Francis as a starting-place for peace:
"Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen."
The Rev. Linda McCloud
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek