Vicar’s Reflection: 7th October 2018, St Francis Day
There is a legend about St Francis from the city of Gubbio where Francis lived for a time. A wolf was terrifying the townsfolk and its animals. Francis decided something must be done so he befriended the wolf made a pact between the people of the region and the wolf that they would ensure he had enough to eat and in return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. Francis even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again. Finally, Francis blessed the wolf and released him. I am sure this is more than just a folk tale and is based on some actual event but the truth behind the story is that it describes the sense of respect and affinity that people must have towards nature. Take Yellowstone Park in the USA for example. Wolves were removed from the park in 1926, but conservators began to realise that this had a devastating effect on the natural environment. Other species overpopulated, and the valleys began to lose vegetation and become more arid so that wildfires became more common. The whole ecosystem was becoming more fragile. Eventually wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and positive changes were quickly noted as the ecosystem re-adjusted. Over-grazing in the valleys stopped, trees and vegetation re-grew, and other species returned to sustainable numbers. We live in a world with natural balance and we disturb it at our peril. St Francis taught us this.