Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In the calendar of the church we remember today Francis of Assisi, born in year 1182, the son of a prosperous merchant. Francis was a lost youth with too much freedom, too much money, and too much vanity to amount to anything. Against all probabilities he met Jesus in the face and form of beggars and lepers and experienced a 180 degree conversion in life. Before he turned 30, Francis had the Pope’s blessing and thousands of followers who also were looking to see and serve Jesus amongst the lowly – not just people, but in the whole of creation.
The world is an icon. What God has created is iconic, that is, we will see and sense the glory and majesty of God, the presence of God, through God’s creation. No one thing is God: no one person is God, nor a flower or leaf, nor a mountain or an ocean, nor an animal or bird. God is God, beyond our ability to “capture” in any one element of creation. But in every creature we find traces of the Creator, and the experience is absolutely amazing. St. Francis, in his poem, “The Canticle of the Sun,” spoke words of revelation and praise to God: through all your creatures… through Brother Sun, and Sister Moon and the stars and heavens… Brothers Wind and Air, clouds and storms; Sister Water and Brother Fire; through Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs….
Here’s a suggestion for you today. At some point, stop. Gaze at something God has created. Take in its shape and form, its color, its movement, its intricacies. It could be one of these elephantine sycamore trees along the drive in front of the Monastery, or a single bud on an autumnal flower; an animal or bird, shapely fruit or flowing water. Whatever. Gaze at something long enough until you can see through it to its source: God, so majestic and infinitely creative, and miraculously generous to share these traces of God’s glory with us.
Stop and gaze. You will experience three things, all quite counter-cultural:
- Contentment: What you take in will be enough. Not a craving for something else, but a gratitude for what is. That’s contentment.
- Wonder: Such majesty and magnificence we experience in God, if we will only be attentive. Life is wonderful, wonder-full.
- Delight: Which is enjoying something so deeply that we are converted to joy. Delighting in creation.
Gaze at something until you can see through it the Creator. We call this “insight.” It will change your day, change your life, make a world of difference.
Blessed Francis of Assisi, whom we remember today.
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