My Franciscan Earth Day

“Preach the world transforming message at all times. If necessary, use words.” 

Although attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, this quote is found nowhere in his known writings.  However,  Francis does give this message in Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221: “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.”

My Earth Day celebration was relatively quiet.  I celebrated on Saturday by spending the day at the Southside Community Garden Workday in Fort Worth.

This Garden occupies what used to be four house lots behind the parking lot of the church that graciously houses the faith-based non-profit (a 12-member ecumenical coalition) that writes my paycheck.  We had been promoting this workday for a couple of weeks.

I celebrated Earth Day in what may seem an unusual way for a religiously liberal, progressively inclined person of faith.  I gave no sermons.  I made no speeches.  I listened to no sermons and I heard no speeches.  I took part in no rallies or marches or protests.  I celebrated Earth Day by picking up large rocks, hauling bricks in a wheel barrow, shoveling and spreading loam, shoveling and spreading mulch, hauling rocks to line the herb and strawberry spiral, and ripping open and pouring bags of concrete into post holes for the posts of bird houses.   I took photos to document the day for the South Central Alliance of Churches and the Southside Community Garden websites and facebook pages.

The entire day was a sermon, a speech, a protest, a march, and a rally.  I didn’t need to mark Earth Day in what is considered the usual way of grand political gesture because I marked it instead with meaningful work that helps to bring about a better earth, establish community among earth’s children, and hopefully gets a neighborhood further along its path from here to there on the road to transformation.

I preached the gospel all day long Saturday and rarely did I use any words.  I worked with about four dozen brothers and sisters and we preached by our deeds. In fact, few, if any events that happened this weekend in Fort Worth will do as much to bring about the kin-dom of God as the preaching of the four dozen or so people that worked most of the day on that four house lot-sized plot of land on the corner of Hathorne and S. Jennings.

This is becoming more and more common in my life. It’s a bit unsettling in some ways.  I am a writer and a talker – after all what does a preacher do?  I mean, you are reading this, most likely on my blog, or on some social media site where it has been fed from my blog.   I’ve grown tired of the writing and talking.  I’m much more interested in doing.   Yesterday, for Earth Day, I did my sermon. I did it in earth and bark and bricks.   I used hardly a word.

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One thought on “My Franciscan Earth Day

  1. Thanks for your lovely post about your day of doing. If you hadn’t written about it, I wouldn’t have had the chance to participate vicariously in your Earth Day. If you hadn’t written about it, you wouldn’t have challenged me, and possibly other readers of your post, to remember that there is pleasure and meaning in picking up large rocks, hauling bricks, and shoveling and spreading loam and mulch. And if you hadn’t written about it, you wouldn’t have reminded me that doing is not enough. Preaching with deeds can’t replace preaching with words, but each has a time and place.
    – Myriam

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