Editor’s Note: On this thirteenth day of our Advent blog series “Hidden Joys,” DC Service Corps volunteer Joanie McMahon collaborates with Sr. Meg Earsley, FSPA to bring you “The Canticle of Underappreciated Creatures,” written by Sr. Meg and illustrated by Joanie. Check out more of Joanie’s beautiful artwork on her website and Instagram. 

Back in September, I was having a cozy chat with Sr. Meg Earsley, a now newly-commissioned missioner who will be serving in Bolivia soon. Sr. Meg recounted stories from her experience of volunteering at her local Humane Society, where she had befriended and adopted many animals who were rejected and lonely. As an animal lover myself, I connected with Sr. Meg over our affection for rodents, bugs, cats, and unusual dog breeds, and we lamented how misunderstood these creatures often are. In an aside, Sr. Meg mentioned that she had written a “Canticle of Underappreciated Creatures,” and I begged her to send it to me.

The following images are my illustrations of Sr. Meg’s canticle. I used pokeberry juice to color the creatures, because the plant produces a vibrant fuchsia pigment that makes a beautiful ink, despite its reputation for being common, invasive, and poisonous. 

I want to thank Sr. Meg Earsley for being a role model to me in her appreciation for all of God’s creation, no matter how small or detested. She is a woman who embodies the virtue of joy and takes every opportunity to praise God.