On the Eve of The Feast of St. Francis – October 4th

by Ed Colina on October 3, 2017

Over ten years ago, I named our foundation Journey, not because of my affection for Steve Perry but because of quotes like this from Murray Bodo’s book on St. Francis of Assisi:

“Both are important,
The Journey and the Dream,
The coming out and the entering in.

Without the Journey
The Dream is a futile entering in yourself
Where you ride a monotonous wheel
That spins around you alone.

With the Journey
The entering in is itself a Journey
That does not end inside you
But passes through the self and
Out the other side of you
Where you ride the wheel
You find inside.”

                                                                   Murray Bodo – Francis, The Journey and the Dream

Reflecting today on my father, Francis, I have to look back at a time when I was touched by this poor saint. I have been to Assisi a few times but no time more significant than when I was with my friend Chris. I was attempting to decide where to place myself in this world, with a new-found desire to discover the gift of poverty. From my early journal I wrote: “Beginning in the summer of 2006, my friend Chris and I traveled all over Italy and parts of Switzerland (Chris thinks it was Sweden) and it was during that time that maybe God found an opening. Funny how nature can do that.”

Chris and I lived and laughed, grunted up and down the cobblestone, step-filled streets of Assisi, Rome, Interlochen, Zermatt. We ate Italian bread, drank wine in the town squares and even soared through the Alpine skies in parachutes. But during that holy time, with my friend, I could sense a new direction but still not imagining Africa in 2006.

My Franciscan friend, Fr. Richard writes of the “little poor man”:

“History eventually turns itself upside down. In the moment, the saint is never understood. So we had best be careful whom we name saint and devil. We had best listen because sometimes saints come in ways we are not prepared for. Francis wanted one thing above everything else: the poor Jesus. So he went to the caves, dressed in the ragged tunic and let the people call him foolish. Even in his age he saw the importance of being poor. He saw how the Church was being destroyed by its own riches. Above all else Francis stands for love, but love that empties itself, love that is so secure that it can be poor. It can let go of its reputation, securities, money. Francis in every age will be called the little poor man. He was free enough to be poor. He named his community “the brothers of the lower class” (friars minor). He changed sides intentionally: Today we call that side taking a “preferential option for the poor.” We Americans stand for the upper class on this earth. Let us ask for ourselves and for our country the gift of poverty, the freedom to be poor. If we have not heard that, we have not heard Francis. All the rest is sentimentality – “birdbath Franciscanism.”

                                                                                                                     On Pilgrimage – Richard Rohr

Today I sit in Kenya. I wish I could say I have found the freedom to be poor. I am still holding on to so many things material and non-material. But I can say I have tasted a simple joy and have experienced, to a small degree, the joy of “sister” poverty. I’ve tasted enough to want more, and that is my journey. It continues to call me but I resist, the lure of the world’s riches is too strong for me. Life is surely easier in the US, with my fancy home and modern conveniences. But I am so happy here in my little space. It is dusty, sometimes inconvenient, and insecure at times. But I am “riding the wheel I find inside” and praising God, even when I fall off that wheel. My friends, truly – the journey IS the dream. I am always grateful to you for making it possible for me to be here in Kenya. Praying to be made into a channel God’s peace. Salama.

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