On this day, the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi, I offer the first poem I wrote about Francis. I was a Baptist seminarian at the time. In the years since this poem was written, I did make it to Assisi and eventually made the trek all the way from Baptist to Catholic with those first steps being inspired, no doubt, by the friar who as a young man declared that Pietro Bernadone was no longer his father and walked away from a wealthy merchant's life to a life of celebrating the divine in all of nature. By embracing a life of poverty, he "considered the ravens and the lilies" placing his trust in a higher source and richer treasure.
In Praise of Francis
You are a magnificent image of what it means
to follow Christ, taking him at his word.
You exemplified Bonhoeffer's thesis
centuries before Germany produced her first theologian.
You recognized the vanity of materialism
at the very outset of the advent of the merchant class.
More than anyone else in Western civilization,
You saw yourself as a part of God's great creation
(And thus you respected creation more
than the typical Westerner).
Your devotion to God was supreme
Your love extended to all
and was felt by all.
You were the first modern poet,
a lover of humanity,
an early peace advocate,
a voice in support the poor and oppressed,
the first true Christian in the Western world.
Your life captured the hearts of many,
And it has captured mine.
When I go to Italy,
I shall surely visit Assisi,
For you almost make me believe
In patron saints.
Photo: a scene from the Zeffirelli film, Brother Sun Sister Moon
For a review of the film, check out Soul Food Movies