My thoughts go rambling This Day. Two of my children are doing their own rambling in the countryside of Assisi. Funny how the mind plays tricks through imaginings. Because of the simplicity of life chosen by Assisi's favorite son Francis, my mind conjured up a town, not a city, an unadorned outcropping in the Umbrian countryside.
Momentarily forgotten is the known fact that Francis was the privileged son of a man of great wealth and status. That, of course, is why Francis's chosen life is all the more astounding.
Francis himself, because of his simple faith conveyed through his writings. He was not the simple peasant, almost cartoon character he has become, the statue in the garden with birds and beasts surrounding. (I plead guilty here but only insofar as considering Francis a hero of the Faith. My garden icon is a reminder of the life of faith I desire.)
The world of thirteen-century Italy was like our own only more so. It was a world driven by excess, by wealth, by blood-lust. Tyrants ruled both church and castle. True followers of God could be burned or beheaded. This was the world into which Francis was born. Set against this background he shines even more brightly.
In our day, when we truly do strive to live simply - and we do fall very short of this goal - the life of Francis convicts. But it wasn't just the toys and comforts of the world that make him a standout, it is the simplicity of his spiritual focus, his all-consuming, whole-hearted love of God and the Word of God. From that flowed his love for the world around him and for mankind.
This becomes increasingly the passionate desire of my own heart. Far to go and much yet to learn, but hopefully, onward I go in this quest.
My heart is traveling with my children this day. My prayer for them is that of great blessing, of a heightened, strengthened and renewed Faith as they go the way of Francis This Day.
I implore you,
Hold back nothing of yourself
so that He who gave Himself completely for you
may completely receive you...
Pure holy poverty
destroys the entangling desire for riches,
jealousy, anger and hatred,
and the cares of this world...
Pure, holy love
Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226