A Year of Inspirers (16) – Francis of Assisi

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Why Him?

.

Why him

why him

why him?

.

Because it seems God chose

one so foolish and so poor

.

To show that only

openness to God

is enough.

onlyopenness FOP

This poem was inspired by one of the stories about St. Francis of Assisi, a man open to nature, open to others, especially the disadvantaged and diseased, open to God.

The poem “Canticle of the Sun” was written by St. Francis of Assisi – and maybe this is one of the reasons I am so inspired by him – he was a poet!

“…Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.”

Brother sun

“Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful…”

Sistermoon

Francis was open to nature – in a big way.

I grew up in south London, and even there I connected with brief glimpses of nature’s beauty – a kestrel hovering over a reservoir, or a stunning sunset in the skies over the less inspiring suburban sights of the London Borough of Wandsworth.

When I moved into the countryside for my first full-time job, it felt like both finding a new home, but also coming home, to a kind of spiritual feeling at home, connected, more strongly now, with nature.

Walking the Hills

 .

The wild birds inhabit these hills

            and I, a walker,

glancing down the valley

            dazzled by gleaming lights

                        flung across the fields like necklaces

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I feel connected with the wind

            the grass under my feet

                        God’s sky above my head.

.

connectedFWTS

 The spirituality of St. Francis, and his Franciscan brothers, was an outdoor spirituality, deeply connected with the natural world.  It included praying in the woods – as above – as well as the better-known preaching to birds and talking to wolves.

It was also a felt and lived spirituality, not a dry, theoretical, abstract belief system.

In the Wood

.

To one praying in the wood

The word of God came

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Louder than the human voice

The other saw deeper into Christ

.

Through his tears

Than forests of theologians.

.

seedeeperforests FOP

But the poem with which I began this post – “Why him?” – draws me back to his openness to God, openness to changing his life, and openness to others, including those who were shunned by others.

There is a story about how Francis could not bear the sight of those suffering from leprosy.  But through his openness, “that which was bitter became sweet”.  His whole attitude of mind and heart changed.

Bitter Sweet

 .

When the sweet

becomes bitter,

.

The bitter,

sweet,

.

Then you are

on the way,

.

Transformed

from darkness to light.

.

onwaydarklight FOP2

Openness is also about the practice of contemplation, and being open to change through grace.

Like a Droplet

.

Your nature is absorbed

like a droplet of water

into the mighty ocean

of divinity.

absorbedoceandivinity FOP

Eternity

Raised to the infinite grace

of life and love

.

I plunged into eternity

conscious of nothing created

.

Absorbed in the infinity

of godliness

.

That ocean of light

where nothing is seen

.

But God

In all things.

.

oceanoflight FOP

Openness is also about being open to others – through listening, through imaginative awareness and through compassion.

The Welcome

.

We must welcome

the guest

.

Who enters our lives

however briefly

.

Seeking

what we do not know

.

And minister

in unknown ways,

.

Meet many

an angel.

welcometheguest meetangel

If you have read through to the end of this post, I hope you have learned something about St. Francis of Assisi, and what he means to me. 

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