This is a Friday offering of the Loose Blogger Consortium, active and semi-active member links on the right side of the page. We will all be writing on this topic brought to us by the Magpie.
I’m using this image of St. Francis in part to tweak the Magpie.
But, enough fun! On with our topic. I like Francis, in large part because I visited Assisi and a Franciscan monk gave us an excellent tour of the basilica built over Francis’ tomb, educating us to more of the totality of who and what Francis was.
Francis was a rich party boy extraordinaire! He was actually given the town scepter as the King of the Parties and he was a hit wherever he went. It got more complicated – to say the least … and I can feel another blog post forming already! – and let’s oversimplify to say that he, meeting existential crisis and being a passionate idealist, sought God as few can or ever will. Then, of course, he was ultimately reduced to the statues in everyone’s garden, the statues of him that look nothing like he looked in the paintings of him. No, the myth is better with the strong jaw and beard, the angular features of an ascetic.
Here’s the part of the myth I like, though, the part where he really did have a kinship with all the creatures. This seems to be rooted in many of the things known of Francis before the myth grew and reduced a magnificent man. He apparently did grow to a point where he radiated such gentle peace that the creatures gathered around as he delivered his sermons.
Francis put into practice a perspective that some Christians find to be folly. To my absolute amazement! He found that to be truly holy is to be one with the life of the world, human and animal and no doubt vegetable. He spoke of all aspects of existence as brothers and sisters, even the inanimate. This is seen by some as foolish because man is meant to have dominion over the creatures of the earth and sea.
Dominion: 1. the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority.
2. rule; control; domination.
Nah. I don’t think he was into that. At all. So, was it stewardship he supported?
Stewardship: an ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources.
I think we’re getting warmer. He wasn’t greedy and that helped manage resources. But, somehow, it still isn’t quite ringing the bell with him. Indeed, on his deathbed he said that had he to do it over, he would have ridden his body – which he referred to as brother ass (as in donkey, Mayo) - a bit less hard, LOL. He died at 44 or so. Doesn’t sound like he planned or managed his resources all that closely.
No, somehow I don’t think Francis was any of these things. I think he was just a passionate, humble and gentle lover of God and was smitten with life. I think there’s a lot to be learned from him.