“Though everyone who’s ever lived has walked,
realize that no one has ever taken the step you are about to take.” ¹
Six years ago, Gordy and I went on pilgrimage to Assisi. I have felt an affinity with St. Francis since I was a child, and I always dreamed of making the journey to Assisi to know him better. Before our journey I wrote, “I hope that by following in the footsteps of Francis, sitting in places where he sat, praying where he prayed, walking on the very ground he walked, breathing the air he breathed, I will be filled with his spirit, his love for the Christ that I desire and do not yet know.”
I remember feeling a great sense of Francis’ presence wherever we went on the pilgrimage. I imagined, while walking the streets of Assisi and into the churches and wild places where he walked, feeling the spirit and energy of Francis in the soles of my feet. But this personal connection became even more poignant when I recently read the quote above by Mark Nepo. Though St. Francis and millions of people have walked those same steps before me, no one who has ever lived took the same step as mine! This is an astonishing realization! Every moment we walk this earth, every step we take, is totally unique to each of us! Think of this sometimes when you are walking, that no one ever has, nor ever will, walk the exact same steps that you are taking. You will appreciate your unique, precious human existence all the more!
To honor the feast of St. Francis on October 4, I would like to share with you several poems I wrote while on my pilgrimage journey. May your pilgrimage journey of life be blessed with the peace of St. Francis.
My Prayer ~ 6/4/14
~ may my feet be blessed as they walk the stones and paths and places your feet trod.
~ may my eyes be blessed as they see the beauty of all your eyes saw.
~ may my ears be blessed as they hear your words, God’s words, your life.
~ may my hands be blessed as they touch, caress those walls, stones that hold your spirit.
~ may my heart be blessed as it opens wider to receive you, Francis, and through absorbing your spirit, may I be blessed to know and love Christ more.
Portiuncula ~ 6/7/14
In the valley, right before me, I see your dome reflecting the early evening sun.
You are visible from afar, and impressive, but you are not the real treasure.
The beautiful treasure lies invisible from this vantage point, beneath the ‘glory’ of your dome.
Francis’ treasure is by far the most beautiful in its simplicity.
A small stone church, it would not have been hailed as an architectural masterpiece;
Four walls and a roof, a door, a small simple steeple over the front.
Its real beauty comes from the blood, sweat and tears that Francis graced the church with;
His spirit still permeates every stone and every molecule, every space between each atom.
Francis still breathes within the Portiuncula.
The Portiuncula breathes with the breath of Francis.
La Verna ~ 6/9/14
We go to the mountaintops,
the higher and the more stark and rugged the better,
to feel closer to You, most amazing Mystery.
We turn our gaze upward as we pray;
it is so natural, even though we know you are not “up there” only,
but everywhere, all around us, in all things, and within our very beings.
Yet, in the rarified air of mountaintops,
standing with the earth falling away beneath us
and the sky stretching to infinity over us,
we feel so small, so inconsequential.
It brings us to our knees in awe, in gratitude,
tasting a sip of eternity, desiring a gulp of Your LOVE;
a sip is just not enough.
Full Moon over Assisi ~ 6/10/14
You, Francis, are a finger pointing to the moon,
but you are not the moon,
only a brilliant beam arcing across all space and time,
pointing to the One whose brilliance is so blinding
we can never open our eyes wide enough to fully see.
The full moon over Assisi bathes the hills and valleys,
indeed, the whole city,
indeed, the whole world,
in a silvery light, so bright and pure
that even the darkness is like the day;
that even the darkness of our nights is like the day.
Francis, may my heart follow the direction of your gaze,
the trajectory of your pointing finger,
and open to the Brightness that surpasses all brightness,
to embrace even the least it can withstand for now,
until, bit-by-bit, the eyes of my heart may be fully opened
to Your Brilliance, my God!
– Rita Simon
¹ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have; pg. 295