Blessings on this feast of Francis of Assisi!
In 2019, John and I had the joy of traveling to Assisi on pilgrimage to walk in Francis’ landscape. It was such a gift to connect more deeply to this amazing human being and his sister-in-spirit Clare. Francis witnesses to our call to sacred joy, to holy foolishness, and to a love of all creation.
Saint Francis Where there is hatred, let me sow love. —prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi A wolf circles the town walls with jaws ready to tear apart. Francis opens the gate, extends a steady hand, the wolf whimpers, rolls onto his back, reveals his soft belly. Forty days fasting on the mountaintop, he wakes from a dream with hands, feet, side bleeding, knows the agony of torture and abandonment, his tears flow freely, they bathe the red circles on his palms. Her name was Clare, meaning light, and her devotion unlocked something inside him. Her hair chopped short and her body struggled, but she saw the world from her bed, knew it like a lover. He called Death his sister, nursing lepers he knew the body as delicate as the first primrose in spring’s fierce winds, knew how the end could be a teacher, a doorway to a new beginning. He stands smiling in the town square, has removed the weight of silk and velvet garments, some are shocked, while others long to feel the hot sun prickle their skin.
–Christine Valters Paintner, from Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty (to be published by Paraclete Press in spring 2023)
Three beautiful songs about St. Francis from Simon de Voil and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan are available from our Abbey of the Arts album collections.