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The Circle of Days

Lord, we offer thanks and praise
For the circle of our days.
Praise for radiant brother sun,
Who makes the hours around us run.

For sister moon, and for the stars,
Brilliant, precious, always ours.

Praise for brothers wind and air,
Serene or cloudy, foul or fair.

For sister water, clear and chaste,
Useful, humble, good to taste.

For fire, our brother, strong and bright,
Whose joy illuminates the night.

Praise for our sister, mother earth,
Who cares for each of us from birth.

For all her children, fierce or mild,
For sister, brother, parent, child.

For creatures wild, and creatures tame,
For hunter, hunted, both the same.

For brother sleep, and sister death,
Who tend the borders of our breath.

For desert, orchard, rock, and tree,
For forest, meadow, mountain, sea,

For fruit and flower, plant and bush,
For morning robin, evening thrush.

For all your gifts, of every kind,
We offer praise with quiet mind.
Be with us, Lord, and guide our ways
Around the circle of our days.

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Reeve Lindbergh, American writer and teacher, has adapted the text of the “Canticle of the Sun” by Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 -1226) to create this gentle and lovely prayer of thanksgiving and praise, in a picture book titled The Circle of Days:  From the “Canticle of the Sun” by Saint Francis of Assisi (1998).  The joyful and bountiful illustrations (in watercolour, gouache, collage) are by Cathie Felstead.

The “Canticle of the Sun” is also known as the “Praise of the Creatures”, Laudes Creaturarum in Italian, its original language.  It is believed to be one of the first (perhaps even the first) works of literature written in that language.

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Inspired visions of this nature arise anew for each generation; I am reminded of these lines in Mary Oliver‘s poem, “When Death Comes”:

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

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