Insights from the World Around Us
We all have Franciscan Moments, when we gain insights or new spiritual growth from examples in the world around us. St. Francis of Assisi was especially gifted in this. When he meditated, he learned a lot from Brother Sun and Sister Moon and from all of nature around him. He saw spiritual lessons in everything.
A Franciscan Moment can happen with anything around us. It doesn’t have to be in nature. Today, we have technology and other man-made creations in our environment, and God can use any of it to teach us lessons.
The picture of St. Francis you see on this page shows him preaching to the birds, with his back to someone who has refused to listen to his spiritual wisdom. Because the townspeople rejected the truth, St. Francis has left the town, entered the woods, and begun preaching to the birds, for he cannot keep God’s wisdom to himself. He will preach to whomever listens. The birds are paying close attention — better than the people did! There is even a bird flying in to join the crowd, drawn by the message he has heard on the winds.
May we listen like those birds.
- Sawing Wood on a Hot Day Isn’t So Bad After All
Ralph and I looked at the sweetgum tree that was now leaning at a 45-degree angle. The sweetgum tree is a good metaphor for Christians whose faith is not deeply rooted. For a while, they grow tall when they take on leadership roles within the Church or community. But they compete fiercely with those who disagree with them, or they suck up the life from those around them, draining them of energy, time, enthusiasm, joy, and (sometimes, sadly) faith.
- How cabbage can teach us to love our enemies
The cabbage that’s in the coleslaw is no less of what it was created to be than when it was a head being picked out of the field or when it was only a seed being planted in the soil. But, if the cabbage did not give up each stage of its existence (the seed becoming a sprout, the sprout growing into a head, the head chopped into slaw), it would have never have become a part of a meal on my plate.
- How drought produces new growth
During the drought, the grass that surrounded the ponds became brown for lack of nourishment, but the dirt of the pond floor, which was normally under water, sprouted with lush, green vegetation. When the ponds are full, little grows there, but during a drought’s drain on the ponds, new growth spurts up. So too with our spiritual lives. When we feel dry, when God seems far away, when we endure problems that drain us, our personal droughts produce new growth that never would have occurred otherwise.
- God is the Admin of a huge computer system
God is the head Administrator of a huge computer system. We aren’t the programs, we are His computer, ideally all working together, one component working with another to produce good things for the Lord. But sometimes components malfunction, and because we are all connected, one bad component may cause another one to stop functioning the way it should. And since we are God’s computer, that component sends a message to the Admin that something is wrong.
- God puts on really great shows
It’s also awe-inspiring. Just think, God placed those dew drops on my lanai screen for me to enjoy! He created them with me in mind! It’s sad that I miss a lot of the shows He’s produced. God sees every dew drop in the entire world, and He thoroughly enjoys watching them twinkle in the sunlight. He started entertaining Himself with dew drops long before He created people to share the spectacular view with. Right now, wherever there are dew drops, He’s grinning from the pleasure they are giving Him.
- The light of Christ revealed on rust and dew drops
One morning, I noticed pretty dew drops sparkling in the sunshine on the steal beams of my lanai screen. They reminded me of God’s many treasures, the gems or diamonds He gives to each us. But next to them were rusty bolts that held the steel beams together. The diamond dew drops were sparkling in the same sunshine that was drawing my attention to the rust! Then God shared with me the awareness that…
- What is the Meaning of the Tau? (St. Francis’ Cross)
The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the tau, which was transcribed as a “T” in ancient Greek. Many early Christians used this shape as a crucifix when honoring the sacrificial death of Christ. Saint Francis began wearing this symbol of Christ’s crucifixion for protection while caring for lepers. For him, the “T” represented a life-long commitment to living the Passion of Christ.