Tuesday, November 19, 2013

St. Francis for Thanksgiving

I have a particular soft spot in my heart for St. Francis and his lessons.
When it came time to work on the final manuscript for A Homemade Year, we had to cut a few chapters, including the St. Francis chapter. I meant to post this  the week of St. Francis Feast Day (October 4) but with everything going on with my grandparents it just didn't happen.   But I thought that perhaps the Thanksgiving season might be just as appropriate a time as any reflect on the wisdom of this man of Assisi, and explore his teachings further. Below is an excerpt from this never-published chapter, including part of the narrative and two of the projects from the children's party - both of which could all easily be incorporated into your Thanksgiving celebration..



St. Francis of Assisi is the saint that speaks to me when I think of my birds and children. Reading his words “where there is hatred, sow love” aloud, I realize that he did not say show love, but instead he said sow love.
Which grabs my attention immediately.
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, when you sow something, you plant it for the express purpose of growing more of the very thing you have planted. - to sow is to set something in motion for the express purpose of growth
This means then that to sow love is to purposely set into motion love in order to see it grow further. 
This means that I cannot just show love, I must sow love purposely.
I must tend to it. Nurture it, feed it, water it.
I must work to destroy the weeds of bitterness, apathy, and busyness, that threaten to strangle the life out of it - again and again.
I must set love, faith, hope, joy in motion for the purpose of growth– my growth, my family’s growth, my communities growth.
St. Francis continues his conversation with me, “it is no use walking anywhere to preach unless you’re walking is preaching...Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” he says , and I am cut to my core with these words.  
Am I walking my preaching, walking my teaching, my writing? 
As a mother, wife, friend?
Am I walking Christ’s love and mercy and grace, daily and hourly? 
For someone who loves words as much as I do, walking the gospel is much harder than just telling it.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the needs around me. I am easily irritated and short tempered with those closest to me.
I get impatient with the progress of my Life Plan.
I get impatient with myself for being so impatient.
I feel small in my ungratefulness.
I think of St. Francis words, True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice, and silently say a prayer that I will remember to stop and consider the sparrows. That I will stop and see the leaves twirling as they fall from branch to ground. That I will not throw myself off the melodramatic cliff of What I Can Only See Now. That I will remember to give thanks for all the progress that has occurred, all the little seeds that have sprouted, all the dreams reached, all the bounty provided.
And if I manage to get that far, I will also hopefully remember to pick up another handful of seeds or bulbs, and my all too-shiny spade, plop down in the dirt, and begin to sow again.




Down on the Farm Children’s Party
The life of St. Francis is a wonderful one to study when seeking lessons of meekness and servitude. St. Francis saw God’s glory, creativity and worth in all of creation. To honor St. Francis and his attitude of humility, I thought a farm theme seemed appropriate because on a farm everyone must pitch in and help. And caring for all living creatures, no matter their size (as we have learned in our house) is an important and holy undertaking To hold a St. Francis- inspired Farm Party, simply gather a few willing hands, serve some Assisi- inspired treats and help children create crafts that serve and instruct as well as honor the beauty and creativity that God has created in our natural world and in each of us.

Setting the scene:

Create a Down on the Farm atmosphere gather items that have that fresh-off-the-hay-wagon feel. For our party we used a vintage quilt made from calico and feed-sack materials as our table cloth, jelly jars for glasses, a wood stump served as a cupcake stand and small farmers market baskets held our farm animal cookies. Because The Feast of St. Francis occurs in the month of October, you can also use traditional fall items to help decorate: pumpkins, gourds and mums are all easy to find and inexpensive additions to a fall party.


Farm Animal DIY (Decorate It Yourself) Cookies

Cookie decorating has become a staple of almost every kid-centric party I throw. To me this is an everyone wins activity. There is less work for me because I don’t have to decorate each cookie, the kids love to get involved and be creative ( I have never had a kid, no matter how old or how cool refuse to decorate a cookie) and as a bonus they get to eat their creations when they are done. Less work, more fun, what could be better?


To make these cookies I used a simple sugar cookie recipe and these cookie cutters.
I put toppings smalls ramekins (easy to use for small hands) and gave every child a small personal serving of cream cheese icing and a plastic knife for spreading.
Then I let them go to town.


      

We also made little prayer flip books featuring farm animal cut-outs and St. Francis most famous prayer.  Download and print this Flip-Book How-To and Patterns here: St. Francis Flip Book (there are also scripture references and family reflection questions included) and make these flip books before or on Thanksgiving for kids to color and enjoy.


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Think your kids would love learning about St. Francis? Stay tuned - tomorrow I will have a great St. Francis Giveaway!


blessings friends-
J


1 comment:

ok, really. tell me the truth... do these comments make me look fat?

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